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Community Matters - The Waldon Family's Story

We’re continuing to share the Waldons' journey of family, community, and ultimately founding Independence Through GRACE.


“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2


Throughout their journey, the Waldons have not only devoted themselves to prayer, but have been completely covered in prayer by family, fellow church members, and supporters like you.


Catherine & Grover's community–especially their faith community–has proven to them over the years that they are never alone. (You can be part of the Waldons’ story – give today!)

Slideshow of waldon family photos

Our faith community has been an unwavering source of strength and support as we embarked on our journey to establish GRACE. The members of our small group Bible study and their commitment to pray for our mission not only strengthened & encouraged us, but demonstrated the profound importance of prayer in our pursuit of making a positive impact in our community”



Over the last few decades, countless numbers of people have touched the Waldons and significantly impacted their lives:


Catherine recalls Trevor’s elementary school teacher Janice Laster, “She started the private one-room school because her daughter had dyslexia. She was such an inspiration to us, and taught us that every student learns differently and at a different pace. You have to find the best method of helping them succeed and then pour into them as much as possible.” Trevor thrived in the small school, and has fond memories of Ms. Laster.


In high school, Trevor’s brother Josh and now sister-in-law Ashley helped pave the way for Trevor’s successful high school experience.

Slideshow of waldon family photos

In addition to his family, Trevor has two particularly close friends who have been part of his life since childhood: Gordon Beagley and Paige (Ogden) Beard. In high school and to this day, they have both included Trevor in social activities and in their own family adventures. Trevor was best man in Gordon's wedding, and he was a greeter in Paige's! Trevor now plays the role of uncle for each of these friends’ children.


"We are not qualified!"

Having visited several IDD programs in nearby Fresno with their friend Nan, Catherine & Grover were inspired by the services available to people like Trevor who were completing high school and entering adulthood. Yet, they kept running into the same problems: these services were not available in Bakersfield. (Help us continue to provide these services in our community.)


Nan Barker, an educator in the Deaf education program at Fresno State University, understood the need for high-quality IDD programs in every community. She became the first person to encourage her friends Catherine & Grover to start their own program in Bakersfield. Their reaction was strong: “we are not qualified!!”

But God was writing a new chapter in the Waldons' story.

Slideshow of waldon family photos

~Coincidentally~ in the coming weeks, Pastor Jeff Chandler began repeatedly preaching on a timely topic. God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. God was calling the Waldon family, who were just ordinary people, to start something new in their community. Yet, he was not calling them to do it alone.


The Waldons needed ideas and reassurance that this could even happen,

so they invited Mike & Kerri Butler and longtime friends Jim & Diane McConnell to gather around their dinner table and brainstorm. As ideas bounced around the room, the excitement began to build and plans began to form.


Recognizing the value of input and encouragement, Catherine continued to meet with people to discuss Independence Through GRACE. Lu Ann Ruoss, special ed teacher and the director of the special needs class at the Waldons’ church, was able to give valuable advice that helped launch the GRACE enrichment program.


Janice, Ashley, Gordon, Paige, Nan, Pastor Jeff, Mike, Kerri, Jim, Diane, and Lu Ann are part of the Waldons'–and ITG’s–story, whether or not they knew it at the time. Will you join these supporters and become part of ITG’s story?


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