Heather DeBoer worked for Disability Concerns in Canada just over eight years. Shortly before her last day the end of October 2017, Heather wrote this reflection which was published in the Disability Concerns Canada newsletter. Heather continues to work in Canada for Friendship Ministries.
So the countdown is on...last newsletter, last set of minutes, last leadership training...and I’m sad about that. There have been many things about being the Administrative Assistant with Disability Concerns that I’ve loved and some...not so much. But if I had to pick what I’ve enjoyed the most, I would have to say that it’s the people I’ve met. I’m just a ‘people person’ I guess.
Working with Mark Stephenson, Hank Kuntz, Diane Plug, Brenda DeJong, Ralph Bus, Len Bakelaar and many others has just been a treat. When you live with a passion of working and supporting people living with disabilities, it's always just a pleasure to be with those who have a similar passion.
Disability Concerns is an important piece of the Christian Reformed Church, although sometimes, when you're fighting closed minds, it can feel like a waste of time.
Thankfully, over the last 8 years, it feels to me that people living with disabilities are making a bigger impact. People in leadership are becoming more aware, more sensitive, and beginning to see the big picture of an inclusive church. I don’t have facts and figures for this; it's just a feeling. There are more stories in the news. There are more ‘famous’ people promoting things like mental health, like Clara Hughes riding across Canada in support of ‘Let’s Talk’. I’m so glad for this and glad I can witness it all too.
There is, of course, much more to be done. I hope that people sitting in the pew become more sensitive, but I hope that for our church leadership even more. So please, continue your work as Church Advocates to sit down with your church leaders, stress the importance of respect, of support, of an invitation, of belonging.
Everybody belongs! Everybody serves!