Community Resources Work Together to Help Kids with Special Needs

As Jay Ford searched for a way to serve the community, he became drawn to events that benefited children with special needs. When he began helping at a variety of fundraisers with his disc jockey business, DJ Funn, he found that most of the nonprofit organizations hosted individual events that often competed against one another for revenue and volunteers. By collaborating on one event, they could all benefit and pool their resources. “I don’t have a child with special needs, but I have a desire to help a child not being served,” he explained. His desire grew as he talked to more parents and leaders of the organizations and he arranged a joint meeting about a year ago. The meeting led to the Special Needs Funn Day, an event for all ages with special needs and their families and friends on the last Saturday of each month at FunQuest Entertainment Center in Collierville. A different organization that serves people with special needs benefits from the event each month. This month’s Special Needs Funn Day is from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. today. The cost is $3.50 per person, and wheelchairs and scooters are welcome. In addition to soft music for dancing and games, the event enables those with special needs to meet others like themselves and to share experiences and possible solutions, said Ford, who is also a member of Collierville First Baptist Church. Volunteers are plentiful, said Ford, and many are employees of Best Buy who assist at the event so families can relax and feel comfortable. He describes the ministry as a blessing that has become more well attended and supported as participants focus on collaboration. “It isn’t about us, but we had a Savior who came to Earth, got 12 friends to help him and showed us how to work together.” Sherry Neely, special needs ministry director at Central Church and one of the event’s first supporters, encouraged students in her Wings of Faith classes who have developmental or physical challenges to attend or even volunteer at the monthly events. She said she felt God call her to begin the ministry after hearing a sermon one Sunday morning about obeying God’s call even when you’re fearful. Her personal experience with a niece who has special needs gave her further conviction. “I’m usually just a behind-the-scenes person, but God has been nonstop opening doors and blessing us with a group of talented volunteers.” While she sometimes becomes overwhelmed and feels unworthy to help fight the challenges that people with special needs face, Neely finds fulfillment in bringing hope to families. “We want to provide a place where children, older students and caregivers can come and be fed God’s Word.” As the ministry has developed over the past year, the Central group has grown closer as they attend events together outside of church. Neely said many of the participants have an interest in mission projects such as Central’s backpack outreach program, pop tabs for Ronald McDonald House and Calvary Rescue Mission. Two support groups, S.O.S Kids (Supporting Our Special Kids) and Circle of Friends, host their first meeting from 6 to 7 p.m. Feb. 19, led by parent volunteer Karter Raine. The S.O.S. Kids group caters to parents of younger children with special needs, and Circle of Friends includes parents of older children with special needs. Both groups meet first as a large group and then separate into smaller groups on the third Sunday of each month. A passion to help fathers lead their families brought Elder Oliver Williams, senior pastor of Grace Church of God in Christ in North Memphis, to participate in the Special Needs Funn Day. His work as chaplain at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and as a counselor to at-risk youth in the juvenile court system opened his eyes to the need for fathers to gain skills and spiritual guidance to lead their children, especially those with special needs. “I want to help any father anywhere become a man who can safely, lovingly and appropriately care for his family.” He is working with local medical professionals and counselors on a curriculum for families with special needs and specifically the fathers who lead these families. He oversees a fatherhood program, The Fraternity, at his church, and two of the men who attend are fathers of children with special needs. He also counsels adult men and male youths through his Nonviolent Institute to stop violence and child abuse. His goal, he said, is to bring his curriculum to the community and its dads and to build a better family and community. “I’ve stopped saying, ‘I’m a small church,’ and instead decided to focus on saving one family at a time.”

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Community Resources Work Together to Help Kids with Special Needs

Transportation Service for Medicaid Enrollees Surpasses 857,000 Rides in First Six Months

MADISON—The state’s non-emergency medical transportation manager, LogistiCare, has received more than 380,000 calls from Medicaid enrollees and coordinated more than 857,000 trips to physician and dental visits, mental health outpatient therapy appointments, physical, occupational or speech therapy, and hospital stays, according to Department of Health Services (DHS) officials.

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Transportation Service for Medicaid Enrollees Surpasses 857,000 Rides in First Six Months