Meet September, Children’s Ministry Director at a church in Peoria, Arizona. September’s 8-year-old son, Jacob, struggles with PTSD and reactive attachment disorder.
September wanted to start a special needs ministry at her church. But she didn’t know where to start. That’s when she connected with Joni and Friends!
“Where do I start?”
At Family Retreat!
Our Joni and Friends Arizona team invited September to bring a group of volunteers to serve at a Family Retreat. They had a life-changing time and came home equipped to serve the 1 in 7 people living with disabilities in their own backyard.
The Church’s Question
How do we reach families living with disability?
Address the #1 felt need of families living with disability- Respite!
September’s church was ready to serve and wanted to invite more people with disabilities into their congregation. Joni and Friends suggested that the church hold Halftime Respite events.
Halftime Respite provides a safe place for children with disabilities and their siblings to have fun and receive quality care while their parents and caregivers take a 3-hour break.
At the first respite event, 18 volunteers served 6 families. Families expressed gratitude for those hours of respite and the opportunity to connect with other families living with disability. Fred and Mitzy are one couple who were blessed by the event.
Fred and Mitzy care full-time for their grandson, Tyler, who has autism. After the respite event Mitzy shared:
“Respite was so helpful, having a break from the constant care and watching over our little guy. Being able to go out as a husband and wife for alone time, just to get to do little things that you don’t get to do when caregiving around the clock. Thanks so much to Joni and Friends for all you do.”
September’s church continues to host monthly Halftime Respite Care events, but their ministry doesn’t end there!
Back to Retreat!
September and her team returned to Joni and Friends Family Retreat. This time September met William.
William is 21 years old and has Down syndrome. He’s been attending church his whole life but had never verbalized a commitment to Christ. Yet during Family Retreat, William took a bold step of faith and declared, “I want to follow Jesus.”
The loving, supportive environment of Family Retreat – and our focus on God’s Word – created the perfect opportunity for William to make his first public confession of faith: “Jesus died to take my place!”
God used Family Retreat in wonderful ways in William’s life!
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’”
During the retreat, our Joni and Friends Arizona team also asked how September and her son, Jacob, were doing. September teared up as she shared that she was overwhelmed because of Jacob’s difficulties at school and his IEP meetings. She needed help.
We connected September to a local non-profit organization that provides resources for parents navigating school options and education-related decisions for children with disabilities.
Encouraged and equipped with tools and affordable advocacy, September got Jacob placed in a new school where he is thriving.
September shared a word of thanks to you, the “Friends” of Joni and Friends:
“Jacob is now enjoying going to school and making great strides. The support that Joni and Friends provides to families living with disability is a blessing and a gift, and our family is extremely grateful.”
Thank you for supporting Joni and Friends Arizona, where families impacted by disability get closer to each other, and closer still to Jesus.