(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Twice a month, a group of adults with developmental disabilities visit the woodworking room at Pulpit Rock Church and work on a wide variety of woodworking projects.
“We’re at Pulpit Rock Church, and we’re at the Love Your Neighbor program that they operate, and our adult day program clients are here enjoying the time,” said Director of Development and Communications for Special Kids Special Families, Derek Wilson. “They’re learning, they’re growing, and we’re just excited to be a part of that.”
Every month, a group of adults from the day program of Special Kids Special Families are able to learn basic woodworking skills as well as other creative skills including how to sand, paint, and collaborate with each other.
“It’s really important for our clients to be a part of that for a number of reasons,” Wilson said. “Not the least of which is that it helps them gain practical skills. It helps them to gain self-confidence, socialization, and it’s just fun.”
This is thanks to the collaboration between two Colorado Springs nonprofit organizations; Love Your Neigh and Special Kids Special Families.
“We’ve been in partnership with them now for quite some time, and it’s something that we’ve just been excited to be a part of, to watch our clients really enjoy their time here,” said Wilson.
Inside of the woodworking shop on Wednesday morning, the biggest smiles appeared on almost every single participant’s face.
“Our clients are here, they’re able to again, build those relationships, get the self-esteem skills, they’re getting practical skills and they’re giving back,” Wilson said. “They’re contributing to something that they know helps.”
A group of volunteers from the nonprofits work with these individuals to ensure they are safe and having a good time. One volunteer shared the personal connection she has with the woodworking program.
“My brother had special needs, very low functioning, and he would come to day programs, and I just always thought this type of thing was so cool,” said volunteer, Kristie Miller. “So, to just be part of it, see their smiles, see the joy that it brings them is really awesome.”
Beyond developing carpentry skills, this group of adults is able to socialize both with the volunteers and with each other.
“Socialization is vital to all of us, whether you have a disability or you don’t,” Wilson said. “It’s really important to have that connection, that camaraderie, those friendships, the relationships that are formed and built. They’re vital to all of us to have a healthy, growing, sustaining, richer and fulfilling life.”
A goal of this program is to help by building beds for foster kids in Southern Colorado.
“They created a Jenga set for their day program, and that was one project doing that,” Miller said. “So, it’s outreaching, not just a little project they get to take home. Sometimes they do turn into a gift that they take home, but sometimes they’re donating it back to their own programs.”
The impact this program has is one that Miller hopes continues in more locations in Southern Colorado.
“I would say this was just the start and I don’t know what that future looks like, but I know this was just sort of step one to get them to smell the wood, work on things,” Miller said. “There is mentorship programs that are also out there. So, I think this could become even bigger and better in more and more churches and more locations.”
“What goes through my head is number one, the difference that we’re able to make here in the community and that others can be a part of that too,” Wilson said. “They can invest in our mission to their time, talent or treasure. They can be a part of our organization, of Love Your Neighbor, a great group of folks here. They’re doing such great work and to make a difference in the lives of those with emotional, cognitive or physical disabilities.”