From Isolation towards Deaf Community
I want to share with you the latest new outreach of Deaf ministry. We have formed a community committee of concerned Deaf community members, advocates parents of Deaf people with additional Special Needs to advocate for the establishment of Group homes in Delaware for Deaf people with additional disabilities. We have been meeting and collecting statewide info in statistics and stories and have now met with the head of the Division of Developmental Disability Services. They have no idea how many Deaf people they have in group homes or where they are located. they are all in different group homes with staff that does not know sign language. So they are totally isolated except for the ones who come to our camp where for 1 week in the entire year they have communication.
Here is the link to some of the photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/EagavD9T14QVHSuk7
Imagine …..You live on a desert island in the company of a few strange people who move their mouths but no sound comes out. Day after day you live in the frustration of moving mouths with no understanding, no communication, unable to express your needs and fears, your hopes and dreams. The world spins on around you but you have no clue.
That is life for Deaf adults with additional disabilities who are living in hearing group homes in Delaware. Delaware Division of Developmental Disability Services has not kept statistics of the numbers of Deaf people in group homes and, therefore, is unaware of how many are in this situation.
For 8 years Deaf Ministries of the Pen-Del Conference has held an annual week-long residential camping experience at Camp Pecometh for Deaf people in group homes from the eastern shore of MD. Eastern PA and Delaware. This has made us acutely aware of this devastating isolation and their lack of meaningful interaction with others for those from Delaware. Those from Maryland and Eastern PA have Deaf group’s homes with signing staff and easy communication where they can grow and achieve their potential and have a wonderful quality of life. Such is not the case for those isolated throughout the hearing group homes in Delaware. They are each in different group homes and even after 18 years, their staffs have never learned sign language to communicate with them. After 51 weeks of no communication, they live for camp. All year they sign Camp? Camp? Camp?
Deaf Ministry of the Pen-Del Conference has formed a group a Deaf and hearing advocates and parents of Deaf people with additional needs referred to as “Deaf+” to research and advocate for group homes in Delaware with all sign language using staff. Members of the group have called all of the agencies listed as service providers to try to “find the lost Deaf sheep”.
Having the state of Delaware set up Deaf group homes where Deaf people have each other and sign fluent staff is going to be a long process. Meanwhile, these Deaf+ brothers and sisters are languishing in isolation.
New Deaf Ministry Outreach We are called to be a ministry and this is a group that is “invisible” and needs the healing of Christ-like community. We have formed a Deaf + Fun Social group and we are having communication and fun and friends and activities to add some joy to their isolated life. Hands were flying and faces were smiling as 6 group home members and a group of Deaf and hearing volunteers met for dinner and a time to just have communication and fun. A withdrawn Deaf young man very quickly started to talk to a new friend and they found out that they were both bowlers and they signed for 2 hours. Those who have gone to camp told the others about camp and told them to come because “camp is big fun”. Everyone was thrilled.
We are grateful to you, our conference, for your support of Deaf Ministry so that we can transform lives for Jesus Christ. We United Methodists are connectional. Please connect with us in this ministry. If anyone has activities, such as bowling, therapeutic riding, boat rides, a pool, a picnic and would like to join us in ministry please contact Carol Stevens Deaf Ministry Area coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or 443-794-6499