Monday, April 29, 2013

Grocery Shopping with Gloria

Thank you to Gloria, an alumnus from the class of 2011, for writing today’s blog.

My name is Gloria Pavuk and I am one of the alumni students. 

I currently live in an apartment and have two part-time jobs. When I'm not working, I am volunteering at Shepherds College once a week. 

This year I have been helping the students go grocery shopping. I go to the store with a residential staff member.  We usually shop by splitting into two groups. 

I typically help a group of 2-3 students. It is a lot of fun! 

 The students have learned how to compare prices and to compare quality vs. quantity.  

Along with grocery shopping, they also shop for their personal items.  They usually go shopping for their personal items every other week.

After we go grocery shopping, we like to go for a treat (McDonalds, Starbucks, etc.).

I enjoy being with the students, and I am blessed to have this experience!

Shepherds College - Guiding Your Transition to Appropriate Independence. Please visit us at

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Office: Come On In

We’re visiting the Director of Admission’s office today. Come on in, sit down and get comfy amid all the baseball memorabilia. Chris has coffee brewing and you might even get a free t-shirt during your visit.

I know from the experience of working with Chris during Preview Days that he will make you feel at ease. He’s got that gentle way about him – you know he cares about your concerns, and his quiet confidence assures you that your questions will get answered.

He knows how scary it can be to enroll your student in college, especially a student with intellectual disabilities; one you may have thought would stay at home with you in the years following high school. You can tell by his nature that your fears will be taken very seriously as he walks you step by step through the admissions process. He shares your goal of helping your student realize his or her dream of attending college.

In many ways, Chris Wright is the perfect representative for Shepherds College. He worked for many years as a Case Manager for Shepherds Ministries before accepting the role of Admissions Director and becoming the very first employee of the college. He has experience and all the qualities necessary to work with families of students with intellectual disabilities.

Do you need help during the application process? Chris will patiently walk you through it, step-by-step if necessary.

Does the thought of seeking financial aid scare you to death? Chris’ calm demeanor and knowledge of your options will reassure you and give you the confidence to keep moving toward the goal of enrollment.

Do you wish your student could experience Shepherds College to see if the program is a good fit? Call Chris at 262-878-6351 to sign up for a Preview Day, to go on a tour of campus, or to schedule an overnight visit for your student. 

Experience first-hand the warmth, the safety, the faith, and the commitment inherent in the program… and in the Director of Admissions.

Shepherds College - Guiding Your Transition to Appropriate Independence. Please visit us at

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Gift of the Gaithers

The college years are special no matter how you look at them.

For many students, going to college means leaving home for the first time, meeting their first serious girlfriend or boyfriend, or getting their first taste of real independence.  The college years represent the promise of a successful future. They’re filled with hard work, new ideas, exciting events and the type of friends you keep for life.

For Sean, a 22-year-old, third-year Shepherds College student, they also turned out to be a time when a childhood dream was realized – he got the chance to see the Gaithers in concert for the first time!

Sean has been a southern gospel music fan since he’s been a little boy. The Gaithers are his favorite band and their song “It is Finished” is his favorite song. “They remind me of God and Heaven,” he said with a soft smile. “I like Bill Gaither the most.”

Imagine his excitement when Miss Pollard and Mrs. Cyr found out the Gaithers were going to be in town and arranged with Sean's parents for him to attend the show!

But his excitement didn't end here. As a result of some excellent communication from the teachers, Sean had another surprise coming – 

Mrs. Cyr said, “Miss Pollard and I wrote a letter to the Gaithers explaining that Sean had purchased tickets and that he LOVED their music.  We talked about how much the Gaither’s music ministers to Sean and some of the other students at SC.  We asked if there was a meet-and-greet time when Sean could get autographs.  We also included a video of Sean’s reaction to finding out that he got to go to the concert.  They then e-mailed us back and said Sean could come backstage before the concert and meet Bill Gaither himself!”

On April 13th, Sean and his two awesome teachers drove to the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee prepared to experience an exceptional evening of music, worship, and meeting a childhood hero.

They arrived at the theater and met a woman named Deana at the sound booth. She took them backstage where Sean and his teachers were introduced to Bill Gaither. Bill signed autographs for Sean and gave him a signed group picture along with a Gaither Homecoming Magazine. Our little group of devoted fans also had their pictures taken with Bill.

Then Sean did something that just blessed my marketer’s heart – he gave Bill a Shepherds College brochure and bookmark.

The concert was everything Sean hoped it would be… and more. 

At one point during the concert, Michael English pointed at Sean while Mark Lowry spoke into the microphone,“We met a young man tonight. Sean, this song is dedicated to you.” And they sang “He Touched Me.” 


They called Sean to the stage where Mark leaned down to shake Sean’s hand. At the end of the concert, Bill called out, “We love you Sean!”

Sean cried. Miss Pollard cried. Mrs. Cyr cried. Miss Houk cried when they texted her. I cried when Miss Houk emailed me. 

Other members of the audience greeted Sean after the concert and said, “Sean, you’re famous!!”

What an amazing evening! And what a blessed memory these gifted people gave to Sean with their thoughtful acts of kindness toward him. 

I talked to Sean and Mrs. Cyr this week. I asked Sean if he learned anything new about God during this special concert. He said, “Their music taught me how to surrender my life to God.”

After Sean left the room, Mrs. Cyr shook her head and smiled gently, “We spend so much time teaching students to brush their teeth, take a shower, and show up on time for an internship, and yes, that’s important.  However, in light of eternity, it’s not what matters most.  What matters most is that students understand that Jesus died on the Cross for their sins and that they have accepted him as their eternal salvation.  Even if we don’t succeed in getting students to make their bed every day, but they know the significance of Christ on the Cross and have accepted Him as the one to pay for their sins, then we have succeeded, because that’s what truly matters … and Sean knows what truly matters.

Shepherds College would like to extend a very special thank you to Bill Gaither, Mark Lowry, and everyone else involved in making this extraordinary evening possible for Sean.


Shepherds College - Guiding Your Transition to Appropriate Independence. Please visit us at

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Teacher Tuesday: You Know the Drill

I grew up as the daughter of a carpenter. My dad was a big guy with leathery skin from long hours in the sun, wide, callused hands, and muscles on top of muscles on top of massive muscles from shouldering planks and beams and plywood up and down ladders for most years of his life. He loved his work, and his perpetual smile left no doubt as to that fact.

I adored him and wanted to be around him whenever he was home. You can say that I was a daddy’s girl. I knew my way around a tool box better than I could figure out all those odd little gadgets in a sewing kit. He taught me that having home maintenance skills was important – you could save a lot of time and money handling repairs on your own. I learned that tools could be girly and fun as well as functional, and that I could fix my own clogged sink and still maintain my femininity.

These were skills I never learned in school, and knowing them has benefitted me more than all my Algebra, Chemistry and European History classes put together.

I recently asked the Shepherds College instructors what they were teaching the students. My heart went a little gooshy with memories of flatheads, levels and grease guns when Mr. Gaschke responded that he was teaching Home Maintenance and Repairs in Daily Living Skills. 

Here’s his outline for the lesson:


            Stewardship: A biblical basis for taking good care of things God has given to us

The difference between “repairs” (fixing something that’s already broken) and “preventative maintenance” (taking good care of something so that it doesn’t break)

Basic Tools

A hands-on overview of basic tools needed for basic repairs and maintenance, like measuring tapes, hammers, screwdrivers, drills, etc…

Basic Repairs and Maintenance Projects

An overview of basic home repairs and projects our students may do in the future like hanging pictures, plunging a clogged drain, assembling a bookshelf or installing shelves, oiling a squeaky door hinge, etc…

Over the next couple of weeks in Daily Living Skills, the students will be visiting a hardware store to learn how to locate various tools and supplies.

Mr. Gaschke will have the students using tools he brought from home to do some actual hammering, sawing, and drilling in a classroom “workshop.”

The students will also have the opportunity to assess their own dorm rooms for safety and maintenance or repair issues like leaky faucets and burned out lights.

What a perfect class for students who are learning to be appropriately independent!

Shepherds College - Guiding Your Transition to Appropriate Independence. Please visit us at

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Office: Out in the Field

Twice a year, the Shepherds Field Representatives travel in from all over the country to meet together, learn what’s happening on campus, and pray for and encourage each other.

Since today happens to be the first day of the April field meetings, I thought I should tell you about our reps!

These men and women are the voices and faces of Shepherds for those of you who aren’t near our Union Grove campus. You may have first heard about Shepherds when Al or Don visited your church to introduce your church family to Shepherds College. 

Al Pick
Don Long
Or maybe you saw Dan or John at a disability conference handing out college brochures.

Dan Dark
John Mitchell talking to our residents
You may have invited Donn or Bill to visit your home and show you the Shepherds College video.

Donn Mogford
Bill Stevens

Or you might have received a letter or phone call from Kim to follow up on your inquiry about supporting Shepherds through a planned gift.

Kim Longo with her assistant, Sarah Mays
It’s a big job to represent Shepherds! These people are our cheerleaders, our speakers, our ambassadors, our relationship builders, our Public Relations department and our fund raisers. 

It takes character and plenty of personality to do this job well, and they all have that to spare – they’re passionate, loyal and dedicated. Since they work from remote offices, they need to be responsible, self-starting and highly motivated. 

They also happen to be a group of very friendly, Godly, and warm people that you would feel very comfortable inviting to your home or church for a personal introduction to Shepherds and our ministries to people with intellectual disabilities. Please feel free to call on them any time:

For a church visit in IA, IL, IN, MN, MO, NE or WI
Call Al Pick at 262-878-5620 ext. 2308

For a church visit or home visit in AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN or TX
Call Bill Stevens at 904-260-2425

For a home visit in IA, IL, KS, MI, MN, MO, NE or WI
Call Dan Dark at 515-210-2334

For a church visit in AK, CO, MI, OH, UT, WY
Call Don Long at 231-689-5865

For a church visit in AZ, CA, ID, NM, NV, OR, or WA, or a home visit in AK, AZ, CA, CO, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, UT, WA, or WY
Call Donn Mogford at 208-283-5930

For a church visit or home visit in CT, DE, MD, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VA, VT, WV
Call John Mitchell at 610-438-2840

And for a home visit in IN and OH, or to discuss Estate and Planned Giving in any state
Call Kim Longo at 937-708-1695
Dan DiDonato, VP of Development (and our boss)

Now, those of you who are very observant might have noticed, as I did, that the great state of Hawaii isn’t on this list. If you live on any of the islands and dearly desire a visit from a Shepherds rep, please call my boss, Dan DiDonato, and request that an unlisted rep named Susan be sent out at once.  I, er...she, will come bearing Shepherds pens and lots of amazing stories about our students to entertain you as you luau and hula together.

Shepherds College - Guiding Your Transition to Appropriate Independence. Please visit us at