How does a church provide special needs kids with a place to feel safe and to grow? The Santa Clarita church has found the answer in a special needs children’s ministry called My Friend’s House. Special needs teacher Delmy Calderon has been hired by the church to teach every Sabbath morning and during VBS week.
“The reason I got involved initially was to offer something more to one family with a son who has autism and Down syndrome,” said Linda Scotto, a church elder who also serves as the church’s family ministry director and Primary Sabbath School teacher.
This past summer was the first time the Santa Clarita church offered a special needs program in its Vacation Bible School. “We had seven kids and three teachers volunteering with them,” Scotto said. “They had a special room just for their class but rotated to the various stations as appropriate.”
Cameron, age 15, has benefitted greatly from the program. “I am so grateful to the Santa Clarita church for embracing this program,” said his dad, Brett Perry. “Cameron and others at our church have never had a place that addressed the needs of their humanity. They’ve always been loved by many, but never had a place to grow. My Friend’s House has turned that around completely.”
Calderon is a well-known educator in the Santa Clarita Valley. “Ms. Calderon is a gift from God and so committed to the individual needs of each child attending the class,” Perry continued. “To hear them worshipping God and discussing Scripture always brings tears to my eyes.”
Giving families a much-needed sense of normalcy is the goal of this unique ministry. “Personally, the most rewarding thing for me has been to see the kids integrating with our church family during our worship hour as they present their offerings to our head deacon,” Scotto said, “and to see them perform a song with the VBS group this past summer!”
“Cameron prays for his teacher and classmates every evening, and he’s now taking leadership within the class,” Perry said. “This would have never happened in a typical class; he just wouldn’t have felt comfortable. Praise God for My Friend’s House at Santa Clarita church!”