By Susie Gay
Did you know we have a Special Needs ministry? I have found it to be one of our most hidden treasures here at St. Luke. I spoke to Pam Kamrath earlier this week about her experiences and joys she’s had leading this ministry for the last 10 years.
As Pam steps down from this position we reflected on the Special Needs Ministry and Parents Night Out. Parents Night Out tends to be the front runner of the Special Needs ministry. It offers a free program for parents to have a Friday night out. They are able to leave their children in a safe group environment, surrounded by volunteers that love and help their children. But, did you know our Special Needs ministry has done more than just Parents Night Out? Pam was able to push in the last few years the needs for accessibility in our church. Accessibilities such as automatic doors, large changing tables and hand rails.
This is something I can appreciate from when my dad was suffering from cancer and was in a wheelchair. When you suddenly become confined to a wheel chair you notice the world differently… its so important for the world to be accessible to those with needs, especially the church, where all are welcome!
There is an untapped community out there looking for love and acceptance and the Special Needs ministry is able to be there and love on these families, it’s a support system. Pam shared with me some of her memories and letters from families she was able to help and support. Many expressed thanks for a monthly social event their child always looked forward to. These families knew their child would be able to socialize and have fun.
When discussing who will take over Pam insists that whoever takes over this ministry doesn’t need to replicate what she’s been doing. The volunteers and system are there for tweaking and changing. Many of the volunteers who have helped Pam over the years are from outside our church, many of whom are students.
One of the previous volunteers, Jackie, writes:
I have been volunteering for the PNO program for over two years now. I remember my first time there like it was yesterday. The smiling kids that just can’t wait to explore the activities we have planned for them. That first day, I knew I was hooked and would continue to volunteer here every month. I have even volunteered for the summer vacation bible school in order to assist the special needs children. Now, two years later, I have really seen how each of them has grown and developed to complete activities I never thought possible when I first met them. This experience has truly been the most rewarding volunteer experience I have participated in. Just seeing the smiles on the children’s faces and knowing that I am helping them to be happy for just one night makes all the difference. They truly inspire me and motivate me in a way they don’t even realize. I am so thankful for being a part of this wonderful organization and I know others feel the same joy as I do every time I step into that church.
A big thank-you to Pam for all of her help the past few years. She’s made a last impression on our church, special needs children and volunteers.
Pam’s next step is to continue training and developing Special Needs programs in other churches, specifically the Parents Night Out program she developed. If you’re feeling nudged or curious about the Special Needs program and taking leadership over it please contact either Pam Kamrath or Pastor Matt. Even if you have little to no training in the Special Needs realm Pam insists it’s more about the heart than the experience.