Shepherds celebrates their 50th anniversary

By November 26, 2009

USA (MNN) — Shepherds Ministries began a campaign in 2007 entitled "The Turning Point" in celebration of their 50th anniversary in 2008.

The goal of the campaign is to raise $25 million for renovations to their campus in Union Grove, Wisconsin, as well as establish their newest endeavor, Shepherds College.

The campaign has two phases. First, the short-term phase covers the next 3-5 years in which they hope to raise $15 million. Then, the long-term phase will last 10 years and focus on creating financial stability and reserves as they raise the remainder of the funds.

So far, the campaign has raised $12.3 million, according to Dan DiDonato, the vice president of development at Shepherds, and they hope to reach $12.5 million by the end of the year.

Shepherds called the campaign "The Turning Point" because, "We believe that this 50th anniversary of Shepherds really is a turning point for our ministry. The bringing on and establishing of the college is really a return to our roots," DiDonato said. Originally, Shepherds started as an education and residential program for children with development disabilities, but as time went on, the need became greater for adults, to provide them with vocational opportunities.

However, as of late, DiDonato said they have seen an increasing need among young people for education and vocational training. Thus, they are developing Shepherds College.

The college has 14 students enrolled in its second year, and the class is in college for three years. A new class will begin in July of 2010, and they expect anywhere from 12 to 15 students enrolling in the program then.

In addition to providing an education to individuals with developmental disabilities, Shepherds also focuses on providing for the spiritual needs of these individuals and their families.

"The uniqueness about Shepherds College is that it's the only program of its type in the country that combines the spiritual program with preparation for independent living, vocational services and a residential program while they're here for the three years," DiDonato said.

Click here to donate to "The Turning Point" campaign as Shepherds seeks to reach more individuals with developmental disabilities with the love of Christ.

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