Interfaith breakfast offers inclusion strategies

The Interfaith Disabilities Network of Oregon, an all-volunteer nonprofit that provides information and support to religious organizations to “Welcome, Celebrate & Include” people with disabilities, held a Breakfast Forum for local religious and disabilities leaders on Feb. 13. IDNO was co-founded in 2002 by Corinne Spiegel, who was then the inclusion specialist at Jewish Family & Child Service. Corinne currently serves as secretary for IDNO; JFCS Inclusion Specialist Janet Menashe serves on IDNO’s board of directors. 

The purpose of the Breakfast Forum was to highlight what religious organizations can do to help people with any type of disability feel more involved and welcomed in their preferred religious institution. The group discussed how to collaborate on how to provide a more inclusive environment.

The forum was led by IDNO board members the Rev. Bruce Strade, IDNO treasurer, and Rhonda Eppelsheimer, director of University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities and associate professor of School of Medicine, Dept. of Pediatrics, OHSU.

Insightful small-group discussions followed, with key points shared among the group.  Recommendations were offered to help create a more welcome physical environment, involved congregation, and inclusive practices to assure every person feels connected.

Breakfast attendees included: Rabbi Eve Posen, Oregon Board of Rabbis president; Jemi Kostiner Mansfield, Congregation Shaarie Torah executive director; Laila Hajoo, Islamic Social Service of Oregon State president; Mel Berwin, Congregation Neveh Shalom education director; Trudi Sang, leader of New Wineskins; Andre Noethe, L’Arche executive director; Jessica Bridges of L’Arche; April Davis, The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints Hillsboro Stake public affairs rep; the Rev. Brian Heron of the Prebytery of the Cascades; the Rev. Lynn Lopez of Answorth United Church of Christ; Kelsey Bell, Disabilities Office of the Archdiocese of Portland; Whitnie Grost of FACT Oregon; and Becky Richter and Mollie Meyer, both of Quiet Waters Outreach.

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