Heritage Christian Services, the Center for Human Services Education and the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities will present "Faith, Hope and Inclusion: Believing Together" on Wednesday, Oct. 23, at St. Stephens-Bethlehem United Church of Christ, 750 Wherle Drive, Buffalo.
"It is estimated that 90 percent of people with disabilities are outside of any sort of a faith community," said Lida Merrill, director of spiritual life for Heritage Christian Services. "Faith communities provide so much in a person's life: besides the obvious place to explore faith, they are offered a place to connect and belong, a sense of family and of well being. It's critical that faith leaders, lay staff and congregations alike recognize barriers to inclusion and open their doors."
This free event will gather clergy and human services practitioners together to support the inclusion and engagement of individuals with disabilities into communities of faith. The morning session will be specifically for clergy, faith partners and congregations, and will provide discussion about increasing inclusion within their faith communities. The afternoon session will be specific to human services professionals and families providing support to individuals with disabilities and how they can be encouraging one's faith journey. Bill Gaventa, adjunct professor at the Center for Disability Studies at the University of Texas in Austin, will be the keynote speaker.
For more information or to register, visit www.humanservicesed.org.
Heritage Christian Services is a human services agency that supports more than 1,700 children and adults with disabilities; provides child care; and matches business owners with workers who have developmental disabilities. The agency now operates more than 75 neighborhood homes; offers service coordination, respite, community habilitation and 29 day programs; has been recognized by the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities as one of New York state's top service providers to people with special needs; and recently earned national accreditation from the Council on Quality and Leadership. For more information visit www.heritagechristianservices.org.
The New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities is responsible for coordinating services for more than 126,000 New Yorkers with developmental disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, and other neurological impairments. It provides services directly and through a network of approximately 700 nonprofit service-providing agencies, with about 80 percent of services provided by the private nonprofits and 20 percent provided by state-run services.