When I think about everything that has happened over the past year, it now seems clear that God was making a way when we could not see a way. God had the prophet Isaiah remind God’s people that he is the God who makes a way. ” Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters . . . . I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:16,19b
Just last November. as I was writing our year-end appeal letter, the Holland Deacons’ Conference (HDC) was facing some very significant challenges. At the time, it was very difficult to see a way through or out of them. Some of the challenges we were facing included
Community programs and services for adults with developmental disabilities had been either significantly reduced or eliminated altogether earlier that fall
Kandu closing its doors resulted in most of the 30 men and women living at My Brother’s and Sister’s Houses (MBSH) staying home two or more days each week—not including weekends—without work or activities in the community
Daytime staffing was required for the very first time at each our homes as a result of residents being home on weekdays
Government food assistance for MBSH residents had either been substantially reduced (80- 90%) or eliminated altogether
Transportation services to and from community programs for residents from one of our homes was eliminated; this same home is also in an area not presently serviced by MAX (local provider of public transportation in the Holland area)
The original Brother’s House needed to be replaced because it did not meet government accessibility requirements or provide a separate living area for live-in staff
New requirements from the federal government challenged the very existence of group living situations like MBSH, Benjamin’s Hope, and many
Despite all of these challenges, the leadership of the HDC believed that we were doing what God had called us to do and that God would make a way … even though how, when and what that might look like was not at all clear.
Now, one year later, I can write and share the following with you about how God has provided and made—and continues to make—a way forward for HDC’s ministry with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Government food assistance received by MBSH residents-along with many others in similar living situations-while not brought back to previous levels, has increased during the past year
Generous support from churches and friends helped considerably to offset the unexpected increases for additional staffing, food, and other
Changes made to some of the more challenging government requirements for homes like MBSH–resulting largely from public response–are no longer seen as a pending threat to their existence.
Many MBSH residents now have jobs in the community
Recognition of and support for the need to provide transportation is growing. During the past year, we have been meeting and working with representatives from State and local governments as well as service providers to address the need for transportation. In the meantime, the leadership of HDC decided to begin providing some limited transportation primarily for MBSH residents living in an area without access to public or affordable transportation.
As you might surmise, much of what we have had to do during the past year has had a direct impact on our operating expenses. For example, although a number of our residents are beginning to find employment in the community–most of which are part-time-and participate in some type of day program 2-3 days, we still have residents who are home 2-3 days. As a result, we continue to need staff on weekdays during the day.
Unlike many adult foster care or group homes that receive government funding, My Brother’s and Sister’s House rely heavily on private contributions—primarily from churches, individuals, and businesses—to help cover the costs of operating and staffing our homes 24/7 throughout the year. For 2016, that amount equals approximately $210,000—roughly the difference between what HDC receives from residents for monthly rent/fees (an amount we keep close to what most receive from SSI) and the actual cost to operate our five homes.
With these things in mind, please consider a year-end contribution to HDC this year. We truly could not continue this important ministry without the generous financial support we receive from individuals like you. Your year end gift will help HDC continue providing affordable quality housing, nourishing meals, transportation, needed to support for daily living, spiritual growth opportunities, and a variety of life enriching experiences for the 30 men and women who call My Brother’s and Sister’s Houses “home.”
P.S. If you prefer making a secure online contribution, you can do so right on our website at hdccrc.org/donate
P.P.S. Please consider telling others about and inviting them to support this important ministry of the Holland Deacons’ Conference.