Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church in Loudon, TN reaches out to families who have children with special needs through their Buddy Break ministry. The program accepts both children with special needs and their siblings. On the second Saturday of each month, parents and caregivers drop their children off at the church for three hours of supervised activities (10 am-1pm). The children play games, make crafts, and interact with a caring “buddy”. The caregivers enjoy a much needed and deserved break. One mom used the time to work on a college paper. Parents of a 16 year old girl with Downs Syndrome enjoyed the first lengthy conversation they had had in years. Others have used this time to run necessary errands or simply enjoy some peace and quiet.
This ministry has been a blessing to everyone involved. The caregivers benefit from the much needed break. The children benefit from one on one interaction and encouragement. The buddies, many of whom are grandparents, benefit from the contact with children. The church benefits from the recognition it receives as a caring community. It is the only church in the surrounding counties that offers such a program.
“Buddy Break” is a nation-wide program of Nathaniel’s Hope (nathanielshope.org). After receiving training in Nashville, Pastor Mark Rhoads and several church members began recruiting and training youth and adults from both the church and community to serve as buddies. Promotional flyers were then placed in area elementary schools and physical therapy centers.
If you would like additional information on the mechanics of operating this ministry, contact Pastor Mark Rhoads.
Photos from Nathaniel’s Hope website of the 13th Annual Make ‘m Smile Festival By Nathaniel’s Hope