‘Feelings of My Heart' outing unites families of those with special needs

‘Feelings of My Heart'  outing unites families of those with special needs

Caretakers and families of those with special needs are invited to a special evening of food and fellowship at the upcoming Feelings of My Heart at the Holmes County Board of Developmental Disabilities on Thursday, Feb. 13.


While love always seems to abound in most families who have a member who is dealing with special needs, the task of caring for those individuals can sometimes be tiring and difficult.

The goal of an upcoming evening at the Holmes County Board of Developmental Disabilities is to unite people who are involved with someone of special needs, bringing those people together to allow them to learn, communicate with one another and recognize they are not alone in their efforts.

Feelings of My Heart Couple’s Night Out will take place at the Holmes County Board of Developmental Disabilities on Thursday, Feb. 13 at 5:30 p.m.

The event is designed for families who have family members with special needs, whether it is a child, sibling, adult or relative dealing with any type of disability.

Anyone wishing to attend the evening’s events are invited to participate in a night of food and fellowship, as well as some heartfelt messages of hope from two couples who will share as keynote speakers.

The special guest will be David Manwiller, who will share his testimony of being diagnosed with autism and how he found hope and healing in life. Today Manwiller is the director of clinical therapy at an alternative care center.

“His story inspires hope for children with autism and their families too,” event organizer Renee Spencer said. “His story is amazing.”

Also sharing that evening will be Roger and Viola Hershberger, who will tell their story about their daughter Brooke, a completely typical and healthy child at birth. However, that suddenly changed, and the Hershbergers’ lives changed as well.

In addition Merle and Lena Mullet will share their perspective on special-needs children, derived from their point of view “coming from the outside.” The Mullets have several family members who are not their own children with whom they have been close to.

“Sharing from the perspective of family members who are not their own children and talking about how best to share in the lives of and deal with those children is important because there are a lot of people out there in that very situation who aren’t sure how to help,” Spencer said.

As for having local couples speak, Spencer said sometimes it isn’t the career speakers who touch the lives of others, but instead it is those who simply deal with those with special needs on a regular basis, who care for and love others, who can have the biggest impact.

“I feel like people love to hear the stories of other families in the area because they connect and relate to those stories so closely,” Spencer said. “Stories shared from the heart help put things in perspective and really make an impact.”

The event is sponsored by the Holmes BDD Mother’s Club, and Spencer said volunteer Naomi Weaver does a great job of finding meaningful and applicable speakers for the event.

The Mother’s Club presents two of these types of events every year. The evening will include sign-up and finger foods from 5:30-6:30 p.m., the full-course meal and guest speakers from 6:30-7:30 p.m., a time for Q-and-A from 7:30-8 p.m., and a time to meet with Manwiller from 8-9 p.m.

The cost to attend is a suggested $20 donation per couple, but Spencer said anyone who can’t afford that is welcome to attend and give what they can as a donation.

“This isn’t a fundraiser as much as it is a time of sharing some valuable information with families who are involved in the lives of those with special needs,” Spencer said. “Being able to share means hearing stories about others who are walking the same walk, connecting families together and helping them learn and grow together. Sometimes families dealing with situations like this tend to isolate themselves.”

Anyone wishing to attend can call Callie Senders at 330-674-8045 by Feb. 10 to sign up for the dinner, and RSVPs must be sent in by that date.

Holmes BDD is located at 8001 Township Road 574 in Holmesville.

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