Friendship Ministries’ TOGETHER curriculum is a wonderful tool for Bible study in a church setting, home group, or other small groups. All Belong has also been exploring how to use it for devotions at work, in collaboration with Beyond 26. This article was originally featured in a newsletter for Beyond 26, written by Ellie Van Keulen.
Two Strands are Better Than One
Why does working together make sense? What happens when two threads are woven together? A more beautiful pattern. A stronger thread. A greater result. That’s what is happening at All Belong and Beyond26.
What threads do All Belong and Beyond 26 have in common? All Belong is a nonprofit center dedicated to glorifying God through the innovative and purposeful inclusion of people with varied abilities. Beyond 26 is a nonprofit organization finding jobs (paid or volunteer) for persons with varied abilities. They may come to Beyond 26 through a connection with their church or the school system from which they are transitioning. The two threads (organizations) seek to create opportunities for people of all abilities to become a vibrant part of the greater community!
Three years ago, All Belong became an encouraging partner to Beyond 26 by sharing office space, opening doors for Beyond 26’s first jobseeker. Since then approximately 80 jobseekers have walked through All Belong’s doors to enter Beyond 26’s office.
We think the partnership benefits both parties and is God-orchestrated. Students with disabilities who have exited All Belong‘s partner schools have found jobs through Beyond 26. Beyond 26 in turn has pointed individuals, schools, and churches toward All Belong for consulting.
Recently Victoria White, director of All Belong‘s church division, suggested working together with Beyond 26’s volunteer jobseekers. A few morning work sessions have already yielded great results. The group has compiled 30 new-and-improved Inclusive Worship Kits, and even more Inclusion Tool Kits. In the latest session, the group began working on Demystification Toolkit binders for use by All Belong’s teacher consultants and partner schools. And we have other projects we are eager to do together! Beyond26 volunteers love the opportunity to interact socially, use their skills, and contribute to their community. Each work session begins with devotions using portions from Friendship Ministries’ TOGETHER curriculum. Having that time to pray, worship, and seek God in ways that engage each person in the group helps to center everyone on why we do this work. What a fantastic starting point for the workday. Here are some of the comments overheard in our most recent work session:
- Nicole, “I love cutting things.”
- Berdene, “I don’t have anything to do today anyway, I can work as long as you need!”
- Sarah, “I love Disney! (As a discussion centered around Disney movies that day)
- Ellie, “What kind of pizza do you want?”
- Tory, “You have no idea how much this helps us!”
- Becky, “ This saves me so much time this summer!”
Thanks goes to our Heavenly Father for weaving together two organizations, goals, and beautiful threads to include ALL of God’s s children and their gifts in his world and their community! When working together, the result is a stronger fabric to beautify God’s world. After all…ALL Belong! At school, at church, and at the workplace!
Praise streamers: part of the projects and part of the worship time!