This time around I’ve decided to write a report that focuses on one of our missional experiments a little more in depth.
We have been exploring a relationship with CAFFI (Caledon Area Families for Inclusion) for a couple of years now. Here is the report being presented to the congregation this weekend:
Special Report to Christ Church Bolton, September 2016
When I first came to Christ Church Bolton (CCB) I explained that any ministry initiatives that were missional would have to come from the congregation. One of the first suggestions came from Sian Leyshon-Doughty. She suggested a partnership of sorts with CAFFI, of which she is a member.
Over the course of the past two years (yes, it has been two years now!) we’ve tried a variety of things to develop our relationship with CAFFI. Along the way we have learned quite a bit and made some new friends.
CAFFI is a self-organized group of parents with adult children who have developmental disabilities. Once a person turns 21 years old, they no longer have access to the daily routines and activities of the school system. For a developmentally disabled adult this means there is very little programming available other than privately accessed. The financial, physical, and emotional demands this places on families is enormous. In the words of their leader, Patricia Franks, “Having long term friendships /relationships with the community also fosters a sense of its reciprocal nature, that the families are not seeking hand outs but hand ups and true inclusion. Many of the young adults want to belong and participate in their community in whatever capacity that might be.”
Please take a couple of minutes to read the attached Toronto Star article outlining the Ontario Ombudsman’s recent report regarding social services for those with developmental disabilities.
What we have done:
Our connection with CAFFI predates my (Ruthanne’s) arrival at CCB and some of you have been involved in those events in the past.
This past year we invited CAFFI to use our facilities monthly for their meetings. We also, during these meetings, provide a program of sorts for their young adult children. While the parents meet, some CCB volunteers play games, listen to music, talk and generally just hang out with the young adults. This enables more parents to attend the meetings as either they are unable to afford or find caregiving help at that time. Another CCB volunteer takes the minutes of their meetings which again frees up the parents to be focused on the conversation at hand.
Last Christmas, we (CCB) invited CAFFI to have their Christmas party with us at the church. Together we made the dinner, set the tables, shared the food, participated in some carol singing and craft activity. An invitation to donate according to each persons ability more than covered the cost of the evening. Of the many benefits of such an event, the best one was getting to know people and families individually, getting to understand what their day to day lives are like and receiving their genuine appreciation.
Ruthanne meets once or twice a year with their de facto leader, Patricia Franks, to listen to what CAFFI is engaged with, excited about and to engage in some dreaming.
What CAFFI has communicated with us regarding their needs and hopes in our partnership:
The number one thing that has been communicated to us is:
– we want/need understanding – unless you care for an adult (or child) with a developmental disability you really do not know what these families are facing. Some have resources and support, others do not. Some have extended families that help out, others do not. CAFFI members first and foremost simply want us to get to know them as friends, to listen to their stories.
They also invite us to:
– offer what we have as friends, not what we don’t. As a community that has historically done the hospitality bit really well, this is our best offering to CAFFI at this point. We’ve done so with the Christmas dinner and with offering our facilities and people presence for their monthly meetings. Are there ways we can expand this?
– offer our personal gifts, connections and resources – as we are able, and when needed. Unless we engage in the listening conversations with CAFFI families, we will not know what it is we have to offer to them as their neighbours in this community. We didn’t know that simply providing a volunteer to take minutes at their meetings would be such a big help, so deeply appreciated. Recently a local accountant has offered to help as needed, and a local politician has given advice on navigating the local political scene in terms of advocacy.
– dream and experiment with ways we can help facilitate these young adult’s participation within the community through “work”, volunteering, day programs.
What we hope to do:
In October we are hosting a Bread-baking workshop/ Community Development exercise. This will be held at Christ Church on October 15th, 9 am – 1 pm. This is a limited enrolment event. So far the CAFFI side of the event is full, but the CCB side only has one registrant! During this event participants will get to make bread they can take home, will get a free lunch and will participate in that essential relationship building with the CAFFI community.
Continue to offer space and volunteers for monthly meetings. Every single member of CCB is invited to come one time to one of their monthly meetings simply to sit in, listen and to ask any questions that might arise. This will help all of us to connect and learn more about CAFFI.
Christmas Dinner – will be happening again this year. December 9th. Volunteers are needed for the following: prepare the menu & buy food, help cook the food, help with set up and/or clean up, participate in the craft activity, just come and eat dinner and make new friends. Remember that CAFFI members, both parents and adult children participate in all aspects of this event. The cost is covered with donations according to ability of those who attend.
What we are asking each member of CCB to consider:
Come to one meeting of CAFFI. They meet on the last Tuesday of the month, from 7 – 8:30. Simply sit in on the meeting, listen to what they are discussing and ask questions for clarification you might have. Talk to Ruthanne Ward or Sally Landy.
Volunteer one time to play games/ hang out with the young adults during the CAFFI meeting. There is always at least one other volunteer familiar with the routines, so you simply have to come and have some fun! (Meetings are the last Tuesday of the month at 7 pm, except for December, July, August). Talk to Ruthanne Ward.
Consider joining us for our Christmas Party on December 9th. Whether you enjoy cooking, would like to participate in making crafts or just want to show up to have a good meal and meet new friends, please consider joining us. More information and sign up will happen in November.
Love doesn’t mean doing extraordinary or heroic things. It means knowing how to do ordinary things with tenderness. – Jean Vanier