My name is Michael Kaszycki. I am a volunteer with Joni and Friends and am personally affected by disability.
I believe churches in Southern California can be more open with people with developmental disabilities and can make them feel like part of the church by communicating with them and never talking down to them. If you talk down to them, it will probably make them feel bad. We are normal, just like you. We want to be treated normal and not like someone who is different.
I want all the churches to come together and welcome people with developmental disabilities so they can be involved. If someone with developmental disabilities lives in a group home they might not be able to get out very easily. Getting out to attend church is something they will look forward to, and it will be a nice break from their group home environment. For people who are home bound, it would be nice if they had a church that would come to their home each week to read the Bible with them.
I think churches can help people with disabilities feel more involved by encouraging them to participate in the ministry. They could hand out programs to people when they walk in. This helps people with disabilities be more visible, because I feel from my experience like people might overlook us because we have disabilities.
I am blessed by where I go to church, and the people there are wonderful. I want to see more churches in Southern California like mine – reaching out to people with developmental disabilities, sharing with them the hope of Christ, and giving them a sense of purpose by giving them something to do every Sunday.
Michael Kaszycki is a graduate of Moorpark College where he received a certificate in criminal justice. After meeting Joni Eareckson Tada at a local P.F. Changs restaurant, Michael began serving as a volunteer with Joni and Friends.