For Laura Lee Wright, support for people with physical and mental disabilities has come a long way.
Many barriers for fair treatment and access to resources have been taken away because of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, she said. But there is still more to be done to support people with disabilities and many Christian organizations continue to help them.
“Up until 10 or 12 years ago there wasn’t a real push to provide special services to people through Christian churches,” Wright said.
Wright plans on giving an overview of what Bethesda Lutheran Communities, a nonprofit organization that helps people with disabilities, at the Salad Supper for Bethlehem Lutheran Church Woman on Tuesday. She serves as ministry consultant and a chaplain for about 10 homes within the organization, which provides residential options for people with disabilities to support their physical health and spiritual well-being.
“I’m going to talk about the success and importance of people living directly in the community,” she said.
Providing homes for people with disabilities is one of the many services the organization offers. Bethesda Lutheran Communities also provides faith services, camps and case management services that help people with disabilities find community services. The organization helps more than 2,000 people with disabilities and their families in 13 states.
Wright has cerebral palsy and has been an advocate of disabilities for most of her life. When she attended the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, she educated people on disability issues. She also served as the access minister for Northland Church in Florida, where she helped people with disabilities and families who were supporting them.
With her work for Bethesda Lutheran Communities, Wright not only serves as a chaplain for their some of their homes but trains the staff and offers spiritual support. She said she is personally not a Lutheran but she is a practicing Christian nevertheless.
Through her work she is able to combine her passion for working with people with disabilities and building relationships with people through God.
“It’s a really wonderful opportunity to work with Besthesda Lutheran Communities,” she said.
If you go
What: Bethlehem Lutheran Church Women's Salad Supper
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: 1915 N. First St., DeKalb
Reservations: Call 815-758-3203 before 1 p.m. Saturday