Ministry Highlight: Life Blessings
Lainie Brown, board member at The Banquet Network, hit the ground running with special needs ministries after God gave her Trent. Her son, like many with downs syndrome do, changed Lainie’s life. She was acutely aware of God calling her to care for the special needs community particularly as she thought of her son, but quickly realized her need to assist others. “I was hurt knowing that I couldn’t invite my friends with special needs to my own church.” At the time, her church wasn’t built for it- willing servants or otherwise.
Since then, Lainie has grown a special needs ministry called Special Blessings. Her church, First Baptist at Whitehouse, has come alongside her in the work.
Here is a look at Life Blessings, a “dayhab” program of Special Blessings Ministry:
What is it?
A post-high school (adults welcomed) dayhab program for the special needs community that provides job and life skills training.
Six full-time teachers care for 22 students. Currently, ages range from 16 at the youngest to 50 years of age.
What happens at Life Blessings?
Most importantly, Life Blessings provides friendship and community amongst those with special needs.
“Special needs children and adults often don’t have a place to go hangout with friends. This is that place. It also provides a form independence from parents, something these kids may never have.”
Life Blessings fosters strong community. Christmas parties, movie outings, swimming, putt-putt golf, bowling, and walks through downtown are just a few of the things that LB teachers do with the students.
Secondly, Life Blessings offers general job readiness and life skills. LB teachers focus on CBI- community based instruction, which means that they create a space for the students to take their learnings out into world. For example, teachers will talk about how to make a meal plan and after the lesson, the class goes to the grocery store together to buy ingredients. Students are taught general safety- such as how to cross streets and what to do if they get lost.
The students are also provided hands-on work experience in a number of ways. Students often do odd jobs at the First Baptist Church in addition to working a few hours at Goodwill straightening racks and similar jobs at Wal-Mart. Yoga, music, gardening, and art are also valued teachings at Life Blessings.
Lainie hopes that Life Blessings will continue to grow and meet the needs of the special needs community in east Texas.
Life Blessings will establish their non-profit status by the end of the summer.