Kang, Wichita (KSNW) – “What would the world look like if we accepted a world filled with love without hate?”
That’s the question Shepherd’s Way President and CEO Ben French asked himself before embarking on his multi-year journey to support and inspire individuals with developmental disabilities.
“I think the first time in my life that happened was when I met my friend Dallas,” French said.
French met Dallas, a young man with autism, about ten years ago through his Christian ministry. A year after they met, French learned that Dallas and his family were going through a period of homelessness.
“We started down this road of what the future of Dallas could look like, really seeing it through the lens of love, hope and opportunity, in the absence of fear, despair and judgment,” French explained. bottom.
That’s when the French came up with the brilliant idea of getting an apartment and sharing it with Dallas. The two eventually moved in together and shared a two-bedroom apartment in downtown Wichita. It was transformed into a safe place to study and eventually paved the way for Shepherd’s Way.
“We were able to really invest in him,” French said. “In six years, I will graduate from a three-stage housing program that will allow me to be fully independent in this life. You can experience the pure and bottomless joy it brings.”
What is Shepherd’s Way?
Shepherd’s Way provides housing and guidance for individuals with intellectual disabilities. The nonprofit places individuals with special needs to learn how to care for themselves with mentors.
“Mentors teach life skills, are friends, advocates, and help with mundane tasks like cooking, doing laundry, budgeting, and making sure we have enough food. but also someone you can talk to,” said mentor Jake Fresher.
Flesher joined Shepherd’s Way in December 2020. He currently lives in his 3-bedroom house with his two others. He said he gets as much from the program as he does from the participants.
“It’s probably the greatest feeling in the world to be able to help him with something he’s never been able to do in his life. You can see them figure out what that means. Helping them do that is the best feeling in the world,” Flecher explained.
RJ Shortt has joined the program in 2021. He calls his time at Shepherd’s Way “precious time”.
“Being here, I have been able to cook more dishes than ever before. I think it’s very important to me because it helps me make better decisions,” Short said.