LDN- Summer Newsletter 2022
BELONG| Fully Known Fully Loved
By Jim Hukill
As a young boy, I remember our fond annual trips to my grandparents’ home. In the early years, the trip was very long, usually two days. As we got a little older, my dad took a church that was closer to my grandparents, so the trip was only about four or five hours. Nonetheless, the trips were times when we really connected as kids. Traveling in the back seat of the car were times of fun and laughter, anger and fighting, times to reflect on the scenery around us.
One long trip home, my parents promised some fun new adventures. We were looking forward to seeing beautiful rock formations, riding roller coasters, and spending a lot of time laughing. What we did not anticipate was the beginning of a long journey of struggling for rights and being confronted by situations that set our family apart.
The first one was Rock City. A place to see the wonders of nature. As we enter the gate we were stopped and told that my wheelchair would not be allowed. There we met disappointment. But to my surprise, my siblings came to my side and said, “If Jim cannot go, we will not go.” Besides we knew we had our eyes set on the upcoming amusement park anyway.
At the amusement park gate, we met a similar fate. The park gate keepers said they did not have the insurance to cover the boy in the wheelchair. I was free to enter but could not ride any rides. Once again, my family surrounding me, and we went back to our car. By this point, my parent’s hands were full with three kids that were completely upset. But it was there in that parking lot where I found my place to Belong. People that made me feel connected. I felt protected, accepted, and loved. These are my people. My family.
As this article is being written, the Lift team is emerging from the chaos of planning and experiencing Breakaway 2022.
Our annual retreat has endured itself into our hearts and lives because it is the one place where we all feel accepted, we all feel like we fit, and we all feel loved. We have an opportunity to laugh together, cry together, and worship together. It is our place to Belong.
Breakaway is just one of those places where we have seen the essence of family emerge. Without question, Breakaway is foundational to you seeing this value of belonging for our ministry, but it’s just the beginning. Over the past year, we have seen a significant bond of belonging develop through our once-a-week family bible study, My Tribe, and our weekly game time and our monthly Boost events.
We desire to have people find a place where they fit. Every person has a gift that will lift our family. Everyone has a place to contribute, a place to Belong, being fully known and fully loved.
So, with our arms wide open, Lift is proud to share we are developing a new day program for our community. This program will focus on adults with disabilities. Lift is hoping to expand opportunities for individuals no longer in high school to have the chance to learn personal development, job training, socialization, and much more. Currently in research and development, our program is looking to add our first participates by the beginning of 2023.
We ask that you join us today. We have received a $50,000 grant for our day program, and we would really like to match this gift by September 1. We have much to do and we need people just like you to help.
This family is open to you. We invite you to enter the place where you Belong.
Breakaway 2022 THE MIX
By Rhonette Hukill
After two years of not so normal Breakaway, we were ready to go full throttle and we turned on the Mixer full blast! 2020 was an unusual year being 100% virtual and in 2021 camp was both in person and virtual with attendance still somewhat low. Both years proved to be amazing in their unique ways. However, 2022 was busting at the seams! The attendance was overwhelming.
This year’s theme was: The Mix. Our scripture reference was 1 Corinthians 6:25-26. As we all learned the role we play in the body of Christ. We also learned to blend our gifts and talents to make up the perfect Mix. Together we can do amazing things for God when all learn to work together with our own God given talent. It has been said that Breakaway is like a big family reunion. Sometimes family reunions can be loud and obnoxious fun and other times it can be a bit stressful. The beauty of a week together is we get to work through all those things as one big family. I love to watch as parents sit together and talk of the stresses of their lives and console one another and problem solve together. At the same time kids are out on the field trying something they never thought they could do; the whole time being cheered on by their Breakaway fam! It is truly a beautiful thing.
As the week went on the family became stronger and stronger. At the end of the week, it was hard to say goodbye. Just like every other year we left the grounds with excitement to stay connected and great anticipation for what next year will bring. There are some individuals that rank their time at Breakaway right up there with Christmas. Many of our families cannot do a typical vacation because of the needs of their loved ones. Breakaway provides that safe place for families to get away together and find the comfort that everyone in the family will feel loved and cared for in their unique way.
Even though we are busting at the seams there is still room for you! Mark your calendars and join us June 26-30, 2023, for a life changing experience! Whether you are a family, individual, volunteer or donor we hope to see you at Breakaway 2023.
Boosts in MANY locations
By Ryan Rouse
God has been so good to us and continues to open up new and old doors so we can serve families impacted by disability. After a nearly 2 year break from our Boost events we have finally launched again! What used to be our Daytona Boost is now in New Smyrna. Peggy Murdock and her team of volunteers has done a fantastic job and Space Coast Baptist has been an extremely gracious host.
It wasn’t long after we launched in New Symrna that we started having conversations with more churches. Lakeside Church (Jim and Rhonni’s home church) reached out to us and in April we held are very first Boost at that location. While we were small in numbers we had a great group of volunteers that will give us the foundation to grow and reach families in the West Orange County area.
Our newest church we have partnered with is the First Presbyterian Church in Lakeland. This is a rare mid week meeting for us but we are joining in some programing that was already in place. All our friends in Lakeland we welcome to join in the fun every 3rd Wednesday each month.
Coming very soon we will be re-launching Boost at Northland. We have remained very connected with Northland and our CAC friends by jumping in the fun whenever we can but we have missed being able to connect, worship, and love on families at our Boost events. Be on the look out for those dates.
We exist to serve families but we also love to walk along side churches, at Boost we get to do both! We are so thankful for our partner churches.
By Andrew Vacca
“Hello, welcome! How may I help you?” is what you will hear if you visit the medical equipment bank on any given Thursday. Elizabeth started volunteering in the Lift office a few months ago and has enjoyed assisting with the medical equipment bank. She is usually the first to greet anyone coming in the door and races to answer the phone calls for equipment, eagerly ready to help. A few weeks ago, members of the Winter Garden Rotary came in to help organize and clean equipment and Elizabeth was right in the mix, cleaning and sorting equipment.
The medical equipment bank not only helps those in need of equipment, but also empowers those affected by disability, like Elizabeth, to have a place to give back and feel empowered to be an active member of the community.
If you need medical equipment or have some to donate, please stop by our office. If it’s on a Thursday, you’ll have the opportunity to meet Elizabeth.
By Ryan Rouse
Earlier this year we were able to host our first ever cornhole tournament. For years we hosted a golf tournament which was a major fundraiser. Like many things, Covid put a stop to that tournament and the money it raised for us to do ministry. We have been seeking for a while something to replace that event. The cornhole tournament ended up being that and so much more. As a ministry that focuses on the family, cornhole reflects what we do so much better than golf because everyone can play cornhole. Our first tournament had men, women, children, adults, people with disability, and without, it was a perfect representation of Lift Disability Network, and we were able to raise money while having fun!
In addition to all the people that participated we had corporations and churches that were “board sponsors.” Each sponsor received a hand painted custom cornhole board at the end of the tournament. Our boards were made by a local homeless ministry, Mathews Hope. Something we believe in strongly is partnering with other great ministries to further the work of the Kingdom. There were so many “wins” in this event, and we look forward to seeing this grow into something that becomes a community staple here in West Orange County and beyond.