BCH opens home for 'forever children'
March 22 2001 by W. James Edminson , BCH Communications

BCH opens home for 'forever children' | Friday, March 23, 2001

Friday, March 23, 2001

BCH opens home for 'forever children'

By W. James Edminson BCH Communications THOMASVILLE-With the opening of Baptist House at Bethabara, Baptist Children's Homes (BCH) of North Carolina has begun the active phase of its new ministry to adults with developmental disabilities, whom BCH president Michael C. Blackwell calls "forever children." The opening of the Winston-Salem facility, which currently houses three adults, puts BCH about two years ahead of schedule, said Blackwell, who credited strong support of the Baptist State Convention (BSC). Construction of two additional group homes at Bethabara is scheduled to begin this spring.

"Everywhere I go, I encounter people who wholeheartedly embrace this new ministry. The response is both humbling and challenging," Blackwell said.

The BCH Developmental Disabilities Ministry (DDM) is the answer to prayer, said Donna Adams, whose daughter, Hannah, is a special needs adult. Adams spoke to messengers at the 2000 Baptist State Convention, relating how her family continually relied upon the Lord to meet needs and find ways for Hannah. "It seems to be happening again. God has answered our prayers and is opening doors to us through BCH's ministry to developmentally disabled adults."

Hannah, now 21 years old, suffered brain damage as an infant. Adams said it is comforting to know BCH would be there as her family plans Hannah's future. She thanked North Carolina Baptists on behalf of other parents of developmentally disabled adult children for their support and commitment to the new ministry.

Hannah and four other adults participated in BCH's first DDM event last summer. The DDM Respite Camp, held at Mills Home in Thomasville, provided three days of activities for the campers while their families, who are primary care providers, enjoyed a respite as well.

"The camp was a rousing success. It was a great beginning for what will happen in the future," said Blackwell. A second respite camp is planned for June.

The move for a ministry to the developmentally disabled began in 1998 when the BSC agreed to study the need for a ministry to special needs adults. In 1999, the convention agreed to partially fund the ministry in the 2000 budget. Messengers voted to place $200,000 in the 2001 Cooperative Program budget as a permanent allocation for the ministry.

BCH trustees unanimously agreed to take the lead in developing the ministry. In the fall of 2000, they acquired an existing group home in the Bethabara section of Winston-Salem, and named it Baptist House at Bethabara.

C.F. McDowell, executive vice president for special ministries, oversees the DDM for BCH. "In so many ways, God has affirmed His calling of BCH to enter this new ministry, and I am deeply honored to be a part in beginning something new and so vitally important," McDowell said. "The need for this service to families is great. BCH and North Carolina Baptists have an awesome responsibility. What a tremendous way to share the love of Christ with such beautiful people!"

Currently, three females reside at the Bethabara home. They say they are excited about the recent changes BCH has made to the facility, as is Debra Gaillard, who was the resident caregiver at the home when BCH acquired the facility last year. The building, constructed in the 1950's, has been completely remodeled.

Today, Gaillard and Linda Szczudlo share the responsibilities of caregivers. She said the three residents have been touched by all the attention.

"The changes BCH has made are an answer to my prayers," said Gaillard. "We've not only had a face-lift, we've had a love-lift! North Carolina Baptists have made that possible."

Since the change in ownership, Gaillard said she has seen new life springing forth. The excitement of the residents has been fabulous to watch. Gaillard smiles. "Each day, they come home looking for new changes," she said.

One of the ladies, Bessie, shared her feelings in a letter. "I really enjoy the way you fixed up the group home. It really looks good and nice with lots of pictures. You painted my room purple (her favorite color). We are so happy the way we are. The Lord has blessed us. God has blessed us in the name of Jesus with all these good things!"

McDowell sees both the need for and the benefit of extending BCH's ministry to developmentally disabled adults. The DDM group home provides residents with a Christian family setting. Residents receive training in personal care, shopping skills, laundry, housekeeping and other necessary life skills. They worship regularly and participate in daily devotions. Long-term care is provided, and short-term care is available for individuals who can live at a higher level of independence in a less monitored situation. "Every day, my passion for this new ministry grows," he said.

The two new group homes on the Winston-Salem site will accommodate six residents each. One home will be for men, the other for women. The existing structure will remain as a group home or become a multi-purpose facility including an activity area and guestrooms for visiting families.

Partial funding for the two group homes is made possible through a gift of property by the Hinkle family of Winston-Salem. The sale of the downtown property raised more than half of the monies needed for the building project. Each of the 3,000 square foot houses will cost approximately $400,000. It is estimated that each home will require $150,000 annually for operation, upkeep and staff.

"We are exploring several options for locations of future homes," Blackwell said. "Several people have offered property, and we are certainly open to the possibilities of partnerships with churches, associations, and others interested in working with us."

The purpose of DDM is to offer developmentally disabled adults the opportunity to achieve goals, realize dreams and enhance personal roles and participation in their communities. The goal is for every developmentally disabled adult to reach their highest potential through independence, learned self-help skills and training.

Potential residents must have a primary diagnosis of mental retardation prior to age 18, be 18 years old or older and a resident of North Carolina.

For North Carolina families with special needs adult children, the BCH's DDM seeks to offer hope. To inquire about services or to obtain additional program information, call McDowell at (336) 474-1260.

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3/22/2001 11:00:00 PM by W. James Edminson , BCH Communications | with 0 comments
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