By Debbi Farmer
What a blessing it is to discover a wonderful ministry online that has the potential of helping so many people. I was blessed recently in discovering yet another “hidden jewel,” Snappin’ Ministries. It is a “Special Needs Parent Network” that is essentially a nationwide support network for parents of children with special needs. Their mission is to support and encourage those living with the daily challenge of parenting a special needs child, so that they may experience the genuine love and hope of Jesus in their everyday lives. As a parent who raised and home-schooled a child with special needs, I can tell you from personal experience that finding the support and resources you need in a Christian environment is a struggle. I suppose this is why I was so thrilled to discover this “gem” to share with you.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Barb Dittrich the executive director of Snappin, and I thought I’d share that conversation with you today!
Mrs. Dittrich, please tell us in your own words a little about Snappin’ Ministries and what inspired you to start such an outreach program.
In 2002, our family sought to connect with other parents who were facing the trials of raising a child with special needs. Having a two-year-old son with severe hemophilia, we found incredible support in the secular world, but craved a more faith-based approach to coping with the challenges of daily living. After seeking out another couple who had a more visibly disabled son, it quickly became apparent to us that God was not calling others, but “our family” to serve this community.
The original meeting, a potluck with six couples, began at our home and then moved to regular meetings at Crosspoint Community Church in Oconomowoc, WI. Snappin’ Ministries was incorporated outside the church October 23, 2007, receiving full 501(c)(3) non-profit status January 29, 2009. Besides serving families locally, the organization seeks to establish this outreach in churches and communities nationwide.
How did you pick the name SNAPPIN?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions about our ministry! The organization was originally named “Special Needs Parents Network.” Our pastor said, “Can’t you come up with a more catchy name? I just met a woman who has a ministry named Spatula Ministry.” [This is the ministry of the late Barbara Johnson]. Then he described how the name engaged him in a conversation about what the ministry’s mission is. I had saved all of our files with the abbreviation “SNPN” and thus, SNAPPIN’ was born. Besides, I tell people, if having a child with special needs doesn’t make you feel like you’re going to snap, nothing will!
Many come to Rest Ministries looking for resources for their “special needs” child. What is it you most desire that others may gain from your website ministry and your resources?
Our mission and vision is distinctly oriented toward parents. The hope of these families begins in the parents. And in this caregiver role requires a unique type of ministry. With all of this in mind, we tailor resources and supports to the variety of needs these parents encounter. We are perpetually mindful of the notion that this group of parents finds it more difficult to get out of the home and thus, more isolated. The magnitude of stress is much greater as well. We address those issues and attempt to show parents the love of Christ in practical ways.
Can you share a little about your personal battle finding resources for your special needs child?
When our son was born with severe hemophilia in 2000, we were well-connected to the bleeding disorder community because I had been connected through volunteerism for over a decade. However, when we became the patient, I was aghast at the variety of issues that effected faith such as sanctity of life, and even how patients were instructed to deal with medical professionals. This is where God worked on me and sent me forth to be His pencil to write a different scenario than what the culture dictates. I really had to blaze many trails on my own, but the Holy Spirit went before me on so much of it. From church, to school, to local athletic programs, I found God using us to firmly–but respectfully–open new doors for ourselves and other families.
How can we start a group like this in our church and community?
SNAPPIN’ has many resources to help parents start a small group in their own church. Besides having our own how-to guide, The SNAPPIN’ Recipe Book, we have other self-published volumes including a devotional and a Bible studies series specifically written for parents of children with special needs. We are also preparing to roll-out a brand new mentor program by the end of the first quarter of 2012. All of these tools are available through our website.
Can someone come to our church and speak about this ministry?
We are available for appearances at any church. Merely email: firstname.lastname@example.org to explore the possibilities further.
What other ways can we make a difference and help with your ministry
Financial donations and continual prayer support are desperately needed to fund our new mentor program. Besides those needs, we can definitely use help with the practical ways we support parents. Donations of gas cards, restaurant cards, grocery or entertainment cards, all go toward showing parents the love of Christ when there’s a trauma or hospitalization. We also put together TLC gift baskets (for mothers and for fathers) that we ship all over the country. We are always grateful when people generously donate items for the gift baskets like soaps, lotions, shampoo/conditioners, note-cards, snacks, nuts, chocolates, gum, stress-balls, flashlights, emery boards, candles, and other basket-sized items.
Is there anything you would like our readers to know more about you and your site? Please feel free to add anything that you think is relevant, so that our readers may choose to turn toward your ministry and resources.
We also hold a weekly online chat on Thursday evenings, 8 PM CST. We are also collaborating with Zachariah’s Acres ) as they develop a Christian respite campus for children with special needs in a rural Wisconsin setting. Please visit us any time at our website at http://snappin.org
Thank you Mrs. Dittrich for taking the time to share with us all about your wonderful ministry.
Debbi Farmer is a wife, mom and part-time writer. Debbi suffers from several health aggravations in her life. She is also the administrator of Rest Ministries’ “Beyond Surviving Homeschool”. Debbi knows first hand how important it is to find the resources we seek when we raise a child with special needs.
- Jolene Philo Shares About Her New Book (and free giveaway!) For Parents of Kids With Special Needs (restministries.com)
- Explaining Illness to Children (chronicillnesspaindevotionals.wordpress.com)