Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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March 3, 2013

YOU SHOULD KNOW... Coni Walters

GOSHEN — Even though Coni Walters has suffered from vaccine polio since she was 4-years-old, she hasn’t let the disease crush her spirit or outlook on life.

Walters has been wheelchair-bound for some time because of the polio.

Her motto reflects how she lives her life — Born to be a blessing and not a burden.

She’s been blessed as the director of a home for people with various disabilities, which operates under the name Dream Ministries.

“Dream Ministries was a vision upon my heart many years ago and it came to fruition in 2006 when a woman (with disabilities) lived in a group home and needed more than what she could get there,” Walters said.

She currently shares the home “with two ladies who need encouragement and guidance in daily living, skills and adventure,” she said.

The handicap-accessible house is in a subdivision across from Grace Community Church on C.R. 36 in Goshen.

The house has three wheelchair ramps with two being visible from the outside. The third ramp isn’t seen until the garage door goes up or Walters leads her visitors to the garage via an interior door.

“I love it,” Walters said, laughing as she guided her motorized wheelchair down the four-sectioned ramp to the lower level. Ken Mininger, a friend and carpenter, designed the ramp that will last longer than an elevator, she added.

“The ramp becomes a fun place. Kids have skateboarded on it. They’ll get our extra wheelchairs and have wheelchair races,” she said. “The young ones run up and down. They love to play flashlight tag in the garage.”

Walters said Grace Community Church supports her ministry and church members Emmon and Dana Schmucker, who are also realtors, had the idea of seeking volunteers and funds to help build the home. They began construction in June 2012.

“We are now in that home built by persons primarily from church, but had help from Bashor (Children’s) Home and the building and trades class from Goshen High School, and other friends in the community,” she said, smiling.

Walters added she’s blessed to be a part of the church because “my gifts of hospitality and servanthood are embraced, encouraged and challenged there and my girls are accepted there.”

Dream Ministries services approximately 50 families within the church and community for free.

“After an interview we can offer respite care as well as child care at no cost. We try to service as needed. I am the staff along with my two girls,” Walters said. “This is God’s ministry being filtered through Coni, Ruth and Ashley (her girls).”

She has two “dream” closets in the lower level of the home filled with craft supplies and other assorted items, including games and books to be used by the people she helps. And they have one rule to follow — you get it out, you put it away.

“It’s the same way I live my life. I do my best and I expect them to do their best,” she said.

Grace Community Church continues to support her ministry by sponsoring the third annual Totally Tropical Luau Saturday, March 9, for adults and children with various disabilities.

Three years ago, she approached a pastor at Grace about having a quiet dinner for people with disabilities during the Christmas season.

“They wanted to have a luau and a big party. It flows with how Grace likes to run — very fun and inviting,” she said. “It grows every year and it’s much anticipated by the church workers who volunteer and throughout the year by people with disabilities. We are reaching out with Christ’s love.”

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