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GRACE Beginnings - The Waldon Family's Story

Let’s be honest: money is a tricky thing to talk about. But the truth is, funding is necessary to make an idea like the GRACE enrichment program a reality. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Independence Through GRACE has always heavily relied on the generosity of individual donors to provide services to the community.

We’ve shared about people like Susan, Nan, Pastor Jeff, and Lu Ann, all of whom offered invaluable encouragement to take the leap and start ITG. However, it was the seed money generously offered by a dear friend that made it all possible!

This anonymous giver gave the Waldons enough money to run the faith-based enrichment program they were dreaming of for a whole year!


The story of ITG’s beginnings continued, but there was still something missing… where would the enrichment program call home? Having developed a relationship with Mike Butler, Catherine & Grover initially wanted to start the GRACE program on the same campus as his program, New Options Employment Services. But God had other plans.

God opened the doors on the First Presbyterian Church campus, and its downtown location has given us opportunities to partner with other nearby nonprofit organizations and have close access to many fun activities. And (spoiler alert!) after a handful of years on different sides of town, the GRACE program and New Options are now all under the same roof, still on the First Pres campus.

The GRACE enrichment program was in full swing: in October of 2016, Trevor, Mary Skidmore, and Jacob Brown were the first three participants, and they met every day with our initial mentor Miss Ursula. Activities included art, community service, Bible Study, cooking & baking lessons: things our current participants still enjoy today!

Year after year, the program continued to grow. More participants wanted to attend, and we needed more staff and volunteers. Activities expanded with the addition of ballroom dance, expanded in-depth Bible Study, and music, and every day was a new adventure! To this day, the heart of the original GRACE enrichment program is alive and well. More than 20 participants come every week to grow in independence in a fun and faith-filled environment! Each and every participant, family member, and mentor is part of our story.

As the GRACE enrichment program has grown, family, church friends, and other local supporters have generously offered their time, talents, and funds to keep the organization going.

For many ITG participants, their fellow participants, program staff, and volunteers have a direct impact on their daily lives. The learning, growth, fun, and laughter that happens at the GRACE space is powerful! But this connection would not be possible without those who decide, in big ways and small, to support the ministry that occurs day in and day out. Our donors and volunteers make all the difference. They are part of ITG’s story. They are part of our participants’ story, too.

You can be part of GRACE participants’ stories by giving today!


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