The Becker Trust Grants for Innovation

PICTURED: Rev. Gregory Jones, Spiritual Care Coordinator for Home & Community Connections, and Consortium Executive Director, Marylou Sullivan.

Special Announcement on the Becker Innovation Grants. Read more HERE

About the Innovation Grants

In the fall of 2017, the Trustees and Advisors of the Becker Family Trust in conjunction with the Becker Center for Advocacy received dozens of incredible applications for the Becker Family Trust Grants for Innovation.

From these numerous and impressive applicants, the committee (consisting of Alex Moschella, Esq.; Cynthia Haddad, CFP; and Elin Howe, MPA) selected a total of 20 recipients, awarding a sum of $925,000. Eight recipients will be receiving grants ranging from $50,000-$100,000; other, smaller grants were awarded to an additional twelve agencies.

Grants awarded by The Becker Family Trust are for innovative, high impact projects benefiting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities for social inclusion, self-determination, employment, assistive technology and supported living.

The recipients of the Becker Family Trust Grants for Innovation were announced on March 30, 2018.

Small Grants: Western Massachusetts Training Consortium Expanding Interfaith Option

Home & Community Connections, a program of the Western Massachusetts Training Consortium (The Consortium), has been a pioneer in bringing Spiritual Care Coordination to the people it supports. We currently meet the inter-faith spiritual care needs of over 50 individuals, including people with complex medical conditions, autism, and aging individuals and their caregivers. Our focus area is on “social inclusion” because we believe that exploring spirituality not only encourages the individuals who are examining their life experiences to find meaning and purpose, but also, that cultivating the inherent spirituality of all people has the power to shift public perception and humanize the struggles of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Such a shift creates conditions for truly nurturing and inclusive inter-faith communities. We have already witnessed individual explorations of spirituality leading to strengthened support networks, which include vital connections with compassionate, like-minded people. Our conviction is that these integral connections also foster social inclusion, not only by increasing individual participation in faith-based communities but also by simply illuminating the innate spirituality of all human beings regardless of ability.

The goal of this project is to learn from the experiences of the people who have already benefitted from Home & Community Connections’ Spiritual Care Coordination pilot program. We plan to apply this learning and expand this work by creating a sustainable training model that will open doors for other providers to offer more spiritually sensitive supports. Our objectives are to:

  1. Build upon learning of the people served and the inter-faith communities in which they participate
  2. Convene experts in the field of providing spiritual care for people with developmental disabilities
  3. Offer training that will give voice to the experiences of the people we support
  4. Create conditions to shift the mindset of inter-faith communities, students, and professionals who provide care for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities

Leading the project is Reverend Gregory Jones, a licensed Minister since 2002 at Saint John’s Congregational Church in Springfield, MA, who graduated from Hartford Seminary’s “Black Ministries Program” in 2003. From 2003-2007, Rev. Jones served at Saint John’s Congregational Church as Assistant to the Senior Pastor and Minister of Membership Care, gaining experience including visitation of the sick, pastoral care, and counseling. He was ordained in 2005 through the Bible Counseling Ministries in Springfield, MA and completed 1 Unit of Clinical Pastoral Education through Baystate Medical Center. He has studied at Our Lady of the Elms College Religious Studies Program, and has served as Spiritual Development Counselor and Coach with the American Association for Christian Counseling.

After seven years of working with people with disabilities as a direct care professional, Rev. Gregory Jones draws from his personal, professional, and academic experiences to continue developing the Spiritual Care program at Home & Community Connections. He is a visionary whose leadership on this project has already made a profound impact on our community and tremendous advances toward the goal of supporting the inherent worth and value of a group of people who have often been invisible in traditional faith communities. Upholding the Consortium’s mission to “create conditions in which people with lived experience pursue their dreams and strengthen our communities through full participation,” means that our unique communities always reflect the wisdom of the people who participate in them. This project builds on the Consortium’s mission and promotes social inclusion by building bridges and reinforcing the irrefutable truth that an individual’s “spirit” IS the common thread of our shared humanity.