On Saturday, August 18, 2012, His Grace, Bishop Basil of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, assisted by eight clergy representing various Orthodox jurisdictions, blessed the building site for The Sheltering Tree I, a Christ-centered communal residence for developmentally disabled persons. Future residents, families and friends also were present.
“The Sheltering Tree I is the result of a lot of faith and prayer and hard work,” according to Mrs. Shirley McNally, President of The Sheltering Tree Board. “This first Sheltering Tree will be a home for 10 developmentally disabled persons who will enjoy independence in their own distinct apartments, surrounding common areas for community life. Live-in managers will provide support for the residents. The two-acre site was secured with funding via a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant, the Topeka Federal Home Loan Bank, and many personal offerings—a total of over $2 million.”
The Sheltering Tree Board of Directors—the majority of whom are Orthodox clergy and laity—has been leading this mission since 2007. Archpriest James Dank, rector of the OCA’s Saint John of Kronstadt Church, Lincoln, NE, is an ex officio board member, while Archpriest Stephen Walinski, a priest of the Antiochian Archdiocese who serves the OCA Diocese of the Midwest’s Saints Michael and Gabriel Mission in neighboring Omaha, is the board’s Vice President and Spiritual Advisor.
“Though the trials have been numerous, God’s graces are greater,” added Mrs. McNally. “Out of 500 regional applications, the Sheltering Tree project was one of only two recipients of HUD funding.”
Mr. Timothy Hemseth, a University of Nebraska at Lincoln architectural green building instructor, and the architectural firm of ASD Stanley J. How have completed the eco-friendly building design. Fund- and friend-raising will continue under the direction of Mrs. McNally and her dedicated directors.
More information and a virtual tour of the future Sheltering Tree 1 residence are available at http://www.ShelteringTreeCommunity.org.