SPECIAL LIFE® Who We Are & How We Started
WHO WE ARE
SPECIAL LIFE NETWORK is a local 501(c)(3) public non-profit charity, incorporated in 2005. The purpose of Special Life Network is to facilitate the integration of children, teens, and adults with disabilities into the church and the broader community, thus transforming lives and building a richer community. The desire and challenge of helping every individual grow and mature physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually is a common goal we have as parents, educators, community leaders, and individuals. To facilitate integration we focus on three core strategies: Increasing Awareness, Education and Training, and Networking Resources. Special Life Network has been a member of The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce since 2011. We have been honored as a recipient of the Market Street’s Change for Charities (2011), and a matching grant from Joni and Friends (2005).
HOW WE STARTED
Our story began in September of 2004, when several families, children's pastors and other volunteers from The Woodlands, Texas all attended a local disability seminar to learn how churches were able to embrace individuals with special needs and their families. This small group started meeting to support one another and share ideas as each worked within their individual congregations. As the new Special Needs Ministries started, the vision grew to support other churches as well as the community to provide more opportunities for individuals with special needs to be included. In September of 2005, we held our first community event called Joyful Blessings. It was a training and awareness event for Special Needs Ministry volunteers. Shortly afterwards, Joni and Friends approved matching grant funds for us to (1) start a website (2) document the best practices in Special Needs Ministries, and (3) implement more volunteer training seminars and awareness events. In May, 2006 we put on an evening awareness event, "A Message for the Heart," featuring Dove Award winner Chris Tomlin held at The Woodlands United Methodist Church which was attended by over 2000 people. We shared our belief that Every Life is Special!® and the impact Special Needs Ministries have made for individuals with disabilities, their families and the volunteers.