For Sally and Ken Marino and their five children, the special needs ministry at First Baptist Church of Geneva is worth the drive from Hinckley.
Without the extra support for Joey, the Marino’s 8-year-old son who has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair, attending church and especially being able to serve at church would be very difficult.
The family said that Joey loves the church and gets excited about attending.
While the church has had Masterpiece Ministry – the name for the special needs ministry – since the early 2000s it is now expanding its ministry.
Michelle Demaray, Ph.D, is a professor in psychology at Northern Illinois University and co-coordinates Masterpiece Ministry along with Andrea Koster, a pediatric occupational therapist.
“I’m excited about how we are able to individualize the services for each child or teen that comes to church,” Demaray said. “Some children, for example, spend the entire time in their Sunday school classroom with a mentor, and others are more comfortable spending the majority of time in our special needs classrooms.”
In the past, there has been a special needs room for younger children but now a special needs room is also available for students in fifth through eighth grade.
Both of the special needs rooms are located at the church’s west campus, 3435 Keslinger Road, Geneva.
Michelle Frediani is a volunteer in the birth through fourth grade Masterpiece room, and said of the experience: “It’s fulfilling to be able to help. And I also learn so much in the process.”
Frediani became interested in helping those with special needs after she became friends with a Batavia neighbor who has two special needs sons.
The church also holds a support group for caregivers of those with a special need called Renaissance Support Group. The group meets the first Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. on the west campus and is open to the public.
The church also hopes to hold respite care breaks for caregivers in the near future.
The church’s east campus is located at 2300 South St. in Geneva.
For more information about Masterpiece Ministry at First Baptist Church of Geneva, contact Michelle Demaray and Andrea Koster at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.FBCG/cm_masterpiece.
• Deb Abbs is a Batavia resident and member of the First Baptist Church of Geneva. Her youngest son, Luke, was diagnosed with autism five years ago. He participates in the church’s special needs ministry. Abbs submitted this story as a news release to the Kane County Chronicle.