Page 1

BENJAMIN'S HOPE everyday wonder Spring 2019

BH_2019_Newsletter_5_23_19.indd 1

5/24/19 10:50 AM


Live Learn Play Worship BH_2019_Newsletter_5_23_19.indd 2

5/24/19 10:50 AM

THOUGHTS THUS FAR Krista Mason, Executive Director and mom of Ben

playground, men and women who live in the Ben’s Hope neighborhood are riding bikes and leading alpacas and goats around by leash. The Church of Benjamin’s Hope is vibrant and growing as people travel from all over western Michigan to worship at this exuberant and wildly inclusive all-abilities church. And for 32 people, this is home. Life at Ben’s Hope is an everyday wonder! And for me, this is the answer to the deepest prayer of my heart.



It was 2006 and we were just a few visionaries sitting around my kitchen table dreaming of a farmstead community where people with autism would “live, learn, play and worship.” One day we found ourselves trying to think of a name for this embracing community where people with autism would thrive. I commented that for Ben (my son) having such a place would bring almost unimaginable hope for his future. It was a light bulb moment for Dr. Dave Laman,“That’s it. Benjamin’s Hope. That’s the name.” And it stuck. Now, 13 years later, our 40 acre campus is a buzz of activity, life, and joy! Ben’s Hope is a destination for community families, schools, youth and volunteer groups. And now that spring is here, neighbors are out walking the trails with their dogs, children are playing on the

BH_2019_Newsletter_5_23_19_HLS.indd 3

Ben’s Hope is receiving national attention as communities across the country seek creative and sustainable ways to ensure people with autism enjoy lives of purpose, safety, joy and friendship. This debt-free model of public private partnership is inspiring hope. Yet, as is common to publicly funded healthcare organizations, we manage an ever-growing shortfall. Your giving toward general operating expenses supports nutritious food, excellent staff, the maintenance of a safe and beautiful campus, engaging programming, and authentic worship. Simply put, your faithful support makes it possible to continue the everyday extraordinary work of Benjamin’s Hope. From the fullness of my heart, thank you!

Hope looks like • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Abundant love for all Peace of mind for parents Debt free and a balanced budget* Safe and nurturing homes for 32 people National inspiration of public private partnership Thriving all-abilities church Called and committed staff of 100+ West Michigan leader in RPM** Engaged community of corporate partners Hundreds of awesome volunteers Stewardship momentum to lessen reliance on public funding Faithful and wise Board of Directors A place of connection for our whole community

In Wonder and Gratitude, * thanks to your giving! ** see page 4

5/31/19 12:46 PM

HONEST INTENTIONS Rapid Prompting Method at Benjamin’s Hope We think this is an exciting time in the world of non-traditional communication. Social media makes it possible to hear from the ever-increasing number of people affected by autism who communicate through augmentative devices, technology and the written word. We value the insight of self-advocate and author Ido Keller. Ido speaks about his experiences as a man with autism who communicates through the written word: “It is time to revisit our diagnosis of autism and time to change our way of helping severely autistic, non-verbal people. I believe there may be different, discrete types of autism. I don’t claim to understand every form of autism at all, but I do claim to understand

mine. I believe that severely autistic people, like me, need instruction in communication early - teach typing or communication by pointing to letters on a letter board. Non-verbal people need special methods to do this. They cannot break through on their own. In my case, I was helped by working with Soma Mukhopadhyay and RPM (Rapid Prompting Method). This opened my world.

Dignity-based communication and presuming intelligence are among our highest core values at Ben’s Hope. And, because many of the men and women who live here are not traditionally verbal, we are compelled to explore alternative communication methods. Today 9 men and women are participating in our RPM program, each making progress!

I have insight. I have empathy. I get jokes. I think in letters and spelling, not pictures. I can’t control my body’s movements, write or graph neatly, and I need constant help to do normal everyday tasks.

In our early days of bringing RPM to Benjamin’s Hope and western Michigan, Kaegan and Josha Smith, and Keys4Autism, generously shared their knowledge with us. Kaegan (22) began using RPM at the age of 18. Prior to discovering RPM, Kaegan’s communication was limited, and not reflective of his intelligence and inner thought life. Today, Kaegan communicates through typing.

The danger is that people misinterpret poor performance as a reflection of cognitive capacity, rather than as a need for a different kind of support or teaching. Smart, trapped people need support to emerge from their internal prison. Our bodies don’t listen to our minds. Assume intelligence and look for signs of it. Together we can begin to change things for people with the most misunderstood form of autism.”

During a workshop, Kaegan was asked how he felt when people treated him like a young child, before he was able to communicate with RPM. In deliberate typing, Kaegan responded with these profound words. “Honest intentions are perceived honestly.” Kaegan is teaching us about RPM, but even more importantly, he teaches us about what it means to live together in grace as we strive to understand, respect and love one another.

Live Learn Play Worship

Want to learn more about RPM? Email us at and watch our Facebook page for news!

BH_2019_Newsletter_5_23_19.indd 4

5/24/19 10:50 AM


A year-round learning space in the Ben’s Hope Barn

Our beautiful Amish-style barn is a hub of activity here at Ben’s Hope. Community friends come for class trips, volunteer projects or to hang out with us and the alpaca, sheep, bunnies, goats and chickens. The Ben’s Hope barn is a favorite place of connection for everyone! Long, severe winters limit our use of the barn. Each day a few folks who participate in our Life Enrichment Weekday Program dash out to feed and tend the animals, but it’s too cold to linger. During a particularly cold day this winter we found ourselves lamenting that people could not spend more time with the animals, and an idea bubbled up. There is a corner available about 60’ x40’. Picture with us a warm workshop space to welcome friends and visitors, where folks can hold bunnies, make market products, and learn about life on a farm. Some barn-loving friends have funded most of this renovation! We have $20,000 left to raise. We’d love for you to consider a financial gift toward this special project. If you prefer, you can give online at www.

Stewarding Space for People A Spring Giving Opportunity

We’re hoping to have The Workshop built by fall – in time for the Harvest Festival on September 28 and before the snow flies and temps dive. We joyfully anticipate getting out daily to the barn next winter!

BH_2019_Newsletter_5_23_19_HLS.indd 5

5/31/19 12:47 PM

Upcoming Events • • • • •

Harvest Festival, Saturday September 28 Club Connect, second and fourth Thursday all summer 6-7:30p Church of Ben’s Hope 6p every Sunday Ben’s Hope 1-Mile Family Fun Walk, August 16 Come out and walk around campus anytime!

Watch Facebook for details!

Live Learn Play Worship BH_2019_Newsletter_5_23_19.indd 6

5/24/19 10:50 AM

THE CHURCH OF BENJAMIN’S HOPE connecting people of all abilities with Jesus and one another Live Learn Play Worship

EVERY SUNDAY AT 6PM starting in June we’ll worship outside under the big tent BH_2019_Newsletter_5_23_19.indd 7

5/24/19 10:50 AM


Benjamin’s Hope 15468 Riley Street Holland, MI 49424

a “live, learn, play, worship” farmstead community where people of all abilities are transformed by the love of Christ

Be a SideKick @ Benjamin’s Hope the soul-satisfying job you’ve been searching for • • • • •

Part and full time positions available Morning, evening, overnight and weekend Supportive Christian work environment 401K with employer match Paid training

Visit to learn more, or call 616.399.6293 to schedule an interview BH_2019_Newsletter_5_23_19.indd 8

5/24/19 10:50 AM

Profile for Benjamin's Hope

Benjamin's Hope Spring 2019 Newsletter  

Catch up on what's been happening at our "live, learn, play, worship" farmstead community where people of all abilities are transformed by t...

Benjamin's Hope Spring 2019 Newsletter  

Catch up on what's been happening at our "live, learn, play, worship" farmstead community where people of all abilities are transformed by t...