July 2012


APD Communications Wants Your Opinion

The Communications Office of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities wants to ensure that it is meeting the communication needs of all its stakeholders which include employees, customers, and providers.

The Communications Office is responsible for all agency media relations, program marketing, brochures, posters, the Champion newsletter, websites, displays, constituent correspondence, agency customer service inquiries, Disability Employment Awareness Month activities, presentations, and other related activities.

Let APD know what you think!

Please spend two minutes completing this online survey (https://wwwsurveymonkey.com/s/APDComm) to help APD improve it’s communication with you.

A sacristy

The other day I received the key to a local church where The Special Gathering main office is located.  Because the sanctuary has been recently remodeled, new keys had to be made.  The key was labeled “The sacristy.”  I thought the person who labeled the key had misspelled the word sanctuary.

Later, I looked up the word and found that a sacristy is a small room usually off the sanctuary where vestments, church records and sacred vessels are kept.  The Special Gathering office is located immediately off the sanctuary in this church.  Our office would be considered part of the sacristy by someone who is not familiar with the inner workings of this local congregation.

I laughed at myself that I was stumped by this word that was new to me.  However, the situation introduces a common problem for the mentally challenged community–reading the English language.

Reading is always problematic for our members who are mentally challenged.  Even good readers may stumble while reading a difficult Bible passage or part of their lesson.  At Special Gathering, our readers’ classes are important learning grounds.  Most often, it is our leadership who attend these classes.

If you ask your members to read, there are a couple of things that you might want to be aware.

  1. Helping with correct pronunciation is almost always appreciated.
  2. Depending on the reading level of the class, I will sometimes move from student to student as they take turns reading.  In this way, if I need to help someone, he is not embarrassed because I’ve moved from person to person.  This makes his need for correction less obvious.
  3. I find that moving my finger under the words as the person reads may be helpful.
  4. I often pronounce the word quietly, thereby, not highlighting the problem.

Helping our readers is vital because we need to be sure that they are reading the passage correctly.  However, it is equally important to preserve their dignity.

What are some of the ways you have learned to help in reading situations?  Are there other disability issues which could be sensitive to the feelings of members?

A Prayer that pleases God

I Kings 3:9

Central Theme:  The prayer of Solomon pleased God and it is a prayer that we can pray.

Introduction–I love The Special Gathering new van but it rattles a lot.  In fact, the noise makes it hard for me to hear because there are so many rattles, squeaks and creeks.  I sometimes feel that way about prayer.  I have so many distractions in my life that I often allow those distractions to invade my prayers.  During those time, I wonder if God is even listening to me when I pray.  Name distractions.

I.     Solomon was known as the wisest man who ever lived and when he was a young man, he prayed a prayer that pleased God.

A. Have a member read I Kings 3:9.

              B. Tell story of Solomon and God’s promise to him from I Kings 3: 1-15.

D. God came to him in Gibeon, an important place of worship.

E.  God appeared to him and said, “Ask whatever you want and I will give it.”

F.  Solomon asked for wisdom.

II.     God was very pleased with his prayer and God gave him what he asked for.

A. There are many times that we could pray this prayer.

1.  When we are tempted to do wrong, ask for wisdom.

2.  When someone else has hurt us, ask for wisdom.

3.  When we have hurt another person, ask for wisdom.

4.  When we face a life-changing experience, ask for wisdom.

5.  There are not many times when we should not pray this prayer.

III.     But what is wisdom.

A. Wisdom is the ability to do the right thing at the right time.

B.  Wisdom is insight and good judgment.

1.  Insight is being able to understand a situation.  It means we can figure out ways to get the facts that we should know.

2.  Good judgment means that we can see both sides of a situation and we can chose the right thing to do.

A. ex At Country Christmas, the new leader changed the name to Holiday Hoedown and took away every reference of Jesus and God.  Therefore, Special Gathering bought our members large pins that said, “Jesus is the reason for the season”  and we asked everyone to wear their Christmas pin.

Conclusion–Asking for wisdom is a good prayer that God loves and He will always honor and answer that prayer.

Dykes v. Dudek Settlement Agreement Summary

On July 2, 2012, the Dykes v. Dudek lawsuit was settled. Under the settlementagreement the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) and the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) will engage in the activities described in this Settlement Agreement Summary. The agreement addresses five key areas:

  • Residents of ICF/DDs and Nursing Homes
  • Crisis
  • Individual Family Support (IFS) Funds
  • Waitlist Strategic Planning Workgroup
  • Employment

Visit our Newsroom to read the

Settlement Agreement Summary.

Banking on line for many people is not only convenient but it can also be necessary.  Before on-line access, when there were two of us on our checking account, I would have given my right arm to know what checks and debit expenses my husband withdrew.  Our budget was pretty set; but he was a free spirit.  He would often vary from what was planned.  That made life more exciting than necessary, especially on the months when finances were tight.  For the most part, we were a cash-based family.  We never had more than one active credit card; and we usually accessed money with our debit cards, once they became a reality.  We even paid cash for most of our cars.

Therefore, as soon as on-line banking was available, I gleefully signed up.  Not understanding the problem with security on-line banking can cause, I freely checked my account almost daily.

For higher functioning people who are mentally challenged, this process can be easy learn.  But there are always safety issues with which we should deal. Recently, I learned that there are several safety tips that will insure a safer banking experience when on-line.  They are pretty simple rules to follow.

1.  Use the  same computer everytime you access your account.

2.  Use a computer that will travel with you.  I use my laptop to view my account.  Therefore, if I’m not going to be at home and I need to view my account, I still have it available.

3.  Change your password often.

4.  Use a unique password for this purpose.  Many people have one password that they use for everything.  When it comes to on-line access, every account that involves finances should have its own unique password.

5.  Don’t use birthdays or anniversaries as banking passwords.

6.  For your security question chose anything other than your mother’s maiden name.  That is too easy to obtain on line.

7.  Each time you access your banking account, turn your computer completely off.  My understanding is that this will erase those nasty traceable cookies from your computer memory.

While identity theft may not be avoidable, we can do our part to make it harder for thieves to have access to our money.  The Bible talks more about money than it does heaven.  In fact, handling money is a favorite Biblical topic.  God is concerned that we use wisdom in our the area of our finances.

Shellie is a good friend who was also a volunteer with Special Gathering for many years.  She taught a Bible class and helped to transport members.  Shellie influenced three of her college-aged children to become involved with Special Gathering which is a ministry to people who are intellectually disabled.  Each school break, during their college years, they came to help serve refreshments or substitute in a Bible classes.

Today we are having lunch.  For me, it’s a big deal.  I find that it’s easy to surround myself with the same people because their interests and value are the same as mine.  These folks are usually my current volunteers at Special Gathering.  I love them and appreciate them so much that I value simply hanging out.

Even though Shellie is a successful business woman, she took time to incorporate people from our community into her life.  When Shellie and her husband moved to a new church, she kept her commitment to SpG because she loved our members and she found value in the work.  She attended other church function, of course, but Sunday mornings remained reserved for discipling and evangelizing people who are developmentally disabled.

However, when her husband took an adult Bible study class, the pastors of the church felt it would be beneficial for Sherrie to attend the class with her husband.  He agreed and asked her to come and partner with him in this endeavor.  Reluctantly, she followed the wishes of her husband and the elders of their church.

Over the years, our contact has become less and less.  Driving by her house one afternoon, I stopped and left my card.  She called yesterday and we arranged to have lunch.  I find that one of the great struggle I have is who do I fit into my schedule?  No matter what your occupation or ministry, each of us face this question.  I admit that as a widow my options are better now.  I don’t have to cater to a husband’s needs or desires.  Yet, I still need to put into place a workable system for including people who are “just friends.”

Because the mentally challenged community is a cloistered sub-culture, it’s easy to find my life revolving in and around the needs of this community.  Yet, I know that businessmen and women become equally enveloped in the culture into which they fit.

Lunch today will be a two hour break from my “norm.”  We’ll talk about our children and minister to each other in wholesome, simple ways.  We’ll share recipes and giggle while looking at pictures of new babies.  Having a friend who calls and says, “I’ve missed you.  Can’t we have lunch” is a big deal in any person’s life.  Don’t ever miss out on the opportunity to stop your day and break for a two-hour lunch.  You will rediscover a part of the Body of Christ that can minister to you in holy and whole ways.

Who is someone that you need to reconnect with?  How long has it been since you spoke to that friend that you once saw on a daily basis?  How can you reconnect with them?

As a young woman, Mercy came to me asking if she could become a deacon.  She was about 22 years old.  At The Special Gathering, which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community, our deacon board comes from the membership.  I told her that she must wait until she is older.  Every couple of years, Mercy would come back with the same request.  My answer was always the same.

Last year Mercy became a deacon and part of our board of directors.  Even though I continually remind her that I had nothing to do with her election to either board, almost each week she calls me to thank me for allowing her to serve.  A couple of weeks ago, there was a shift in our teaching techniques.  She became the co-teacher of our leadership class.  Today, I received a phone call from an excited Mercy.  “Tell me what I need to know about the class.  You sat in the class last week.  What do I need to be doing?”

Because the regular teacher was on vacation, I was there to do what the teacher normally does.  I explained to her that her teacher would be helping her to learn how to better help lead the class.

The thing which impresses me most about her is her ability to wait for her day to come.  While she was anxious to serve, she was willing to wait.  There are people who have a great calling on their lives for service; but they are not willing to wait for their day.

I’m reminded of a friend who came to me one day with a “word from the Lord.”  In reality, it was a powerful message that she had received.  Put simply, the message was that the Lord was going to use her husband and her to initiate a world-wide revival.  She came to share it with me.  “I will make this happen,” she proclaimed with a great deal of force and conviction.  “Her husband had told her that if the message was truly from the Lord, He would make it happen and that they should wait for Him to bring it to pass.”

She was furious with her husband; and she was sure that she had to make this great revivial happen.  Several times during her visit, she repeated, “I will do anything I have to.  I will make this happen.”  Her end was extremely sad.  She began meeting with men at motels for “ministry.” After a couple of years, she left her husband and teenage children and went on the road to pursue her “world-wide revival.”

A broken man, her husband (you would probably know his name if I mentioned it) left our community and moved back to his home country.  He was never reconciled with his wife.  My husband and I lost contact with him and his family.  More than ten years ago, I heard about a massive renewal which originated in his hometown.  When I asked the name of the pastor, I wasn’t surprised to hear that her husband and our friend was leading this renewal.  Immediately, I remembered the prophetic message that his former wife had received.

For me it sealed the need for all of us to “wait on the Lord” to fulfill the desires of our hearts.  Marcy was willing to wait though it was hard.  In turn, God has given her far more than she ever thought to ask of Him.  The husband of my friend also had the wisdom to wait.  The Lord uses him in such mighty ways that it would be impossible to imagine that he would be used in this way.

Waiting is always hard.  Yet, God desires that we put the brakes on our natural impatience and wait.

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