The Rev. Laurel Bernard: Connectors

Date posted: Monday 30 January 2017

In her first blog, the Rev. Laurel Halvorson Bernard talked about her own unique calling into special needs ministry. She also revealed a new pilot program she's been working on in response to the needs she's discovered during her ministry. This program, developed through the Career and Life Transition Program of Mounds View Schools, aims to provide former students with special needs opportunities to serve their communities in meaningful ways. Today, Laurel expands on the pilot program, as well as how you can be involved.



Many young people whose medical or other needs make them less likely to have employment still wish to serve their communities. This new pilot program aims to address the needs of these former students who are more likely to fall through the cracks. Providing "work" opportunities while also providing the space and resources to cope with their unique needs, students in this pilot program are called Connectors.


Connectors are serving at the Career and Life Transition Program (CLT) of Mounds View Schools alongside job coaches and Personal Care Attendants (PCAs). Some days, the Connector's task may be as simple as visiting with students and staff. Some tasks may be as complicated as laundry, sorting, or housekeeping. The goal is to provide meaningful and joyful volunteer opportunities for these Connectors in a way that is safe, productive, fun, and social.


How can congregations participate?

Glad you asked. The Connectors want to make a difference and give to a vulnerable community: Homeless youth in the Twin Cities. Working with Avenues for Homeless Youth and YouthLinks Centers, they want to help make kits for homeless youth.


Theses young adults are seeking financial donations which they will then use to purchase items each month to assemble kits and deliver them to the shelters. Kits might include shower caddies, laundry supplies, groceries, medical supplies, seasonal clothing needs, and household necessities.


Individuals are invited to give gift cards or checks of any amount. Congregations may wish to commit and send $100 to the project. Gifts may be sent in care of Pastor Laurel Halvorson Bernard, Special Needs Ministry, Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, 3115 Victoria St N, Roseville MN 55113 with a memo note: CLT Connectors.


By donating to this project the congregations are helping young adults with special needs make a difference in the teen and young adult homeless communities in the Twin Cities. We hope to donate 5 to 10 kits a month.


What else is out there for this ministry?

Along with Bishop Lull, I would like to create a synod work group to envision what a synodical special needs ministry might look like? We have learned that special needs is wide and varied, short term and long term, and with many unique needs. If you are interested in serving in such a work group please call Pastor Laurel Halvorson Bernard at 612.802.7448 or email me at


(Photo via Unsplash)