Antonia Faisant has lived in Findlay for most of her life. She has been an active community member, particularly in the special needs community.
“I decided to reach out to the special needs community shortly after my daughter Mikayla’s birth,” she explains. “My heart was stirred to meet other parents in my situation. Mikayla’s diagnoses were unexpected and her birth brought a new way of life that led me to want to connect with other parents who understood what I was going through.”
Mikayla has Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy (Lennox Gastaut Syndrome), Autism and Developmental Delays.
Serving God through serving others
To tackle a large project, like offering special needs support, it takes motivation to move forward. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming, but Antonia has been inspired by and rooted in her faith.
“My source of inspiration is Jesus Christ. I became a committed follower on January 16, 1994. I went into full time ministry after graduating from Vineyard Leadership Institute in 2003. My husband and I started the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Findlay, but after Mikayla was born and having to meet her extensive special needs, we closed the church in 2009 after about five years. Serving the parents of special-needs children continued after the church closed, and it’s what I currently do,” she states. “I believe as a follower of Jesus we are called to serve others. Our church motto was ‘Serving God through Serving Others’.”
Why the special needs community?
“I chose the parents of special needs children because it’s personally what I deal with every day. I understand it. I get it,” Antonia notes. “I saw a gap in how the parents of special needs children didn’t really get all the support they needed, despite the support and services that are available for special needs children. Who do parents have to go to? Who is their encouragement and support? Parents are tired and need help.”
Special Needs Parent Support serves parents in the special needs community and, in turn, blesses the family as a whole. If the parents are well, then the family is well. The program is relevant, meeting the needs from a parent’s perspective.
“I know these families personally therefore I meet needs accordingly,” she says. “Who doesn’t appreciate encouragement and help from someone who personally understands?”
“I am honored and humbled to be used for this purpose. God restores the things that are broken in people’s lives. He took my personal hurts and transformed them into hope and healing for special needs families! That is what He is about.”
What are your favorite activities to do as a family?
We go to family gatherings and to events that are more suited for Mikayla. We do outside physical therapy, occupational therapy, Awakening Minds Art, Heartstring Melodies and Special Olympics skills basketball and softball, track and soccer.
What is your favorite place to go for respite or a date night out?
My husband and I usually go out to eat, hang out with friends or family at events and rest at home on respite date nights.
What is your favorite family activity?
Playing Yahtzee. Mikayla loves to roll the dice and does very well taking turns and following directions.
How do you include your family in your work?
My family is brought into my work by helping me make food or party favors and helping at events. Mikayla loves the parent support group nights because she enjoys her friends and the food!