TYLER, TX (KLTV) - When children with disabilities outlive their parents, one East Texas ministry provides a solution for the tough question: “What will happen to my child?”
Breckenridge Village of Tyler is expanding its Christ-centered residential community for adults with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities.
More than 40 individuals, like Alex and Erin, call this home.
“BVT is like heaven on Earth,” Alex said.
“It is like a holy ground, a heaven, and a home where I can share my independence with the rest of my lifelong friends.”
Situated on 78 acres of land off a country road near Tyler Pounds Regional Airport, it’s a peaceful backgrop for more than a half-dozen cottages.
For Linda, this has been home for more than 12 years.
"I can be myself and share my poetry, share my growth and maturity in my faith.”
Seeing that development, Linda says her mother has also been touched by the power of prayer.
“She saw the peace of God in me. So it increased my faith knowing that Jesus will answer prayer in his time. And he answered that prayer for me that I’ve had for a long time.”
Inside the cottages at Breckenridge Village, each resident is provided a private room with shared areas supervised by a house manager.
But the facility is so much more than four walls and a roof. It’s an opportunity for independence and growth; a chance for many to develop their identity for the first time in their lives.
“They have unique gifts, individually, that it’s so great to see how they use those gifts that God has given them,” said BVT Associate Executive Director Linda Taylor.
Many long-time employees like Taylor say they’ve had transformative experiences at Breckenridge Village.
“I came here thinking they needed me, but in reality, I needed them. They have taught me so much more about life. What’s really important in life. And it’s not our possessions or our position. It’s about relationships.”
Residents and those who participate in BVT’s day programs are encouraged to pursue their own interests through enrichment and vocational activities.
Daily chapel services actively involve residents like Erin, who plays the piano and inspires others through her testimony.
“It feels really good to pray to the father. It guides my day.”
Finding that God-given potential comes through teaching the importance of productive activity. Many BVT residents explore activities like gardening, arts & crafts, drama, candle-making and sports.
“We don’t put barriers on their abilities," said Executive Director Steven Campbell. "We create an environment where they can thrive. They can experience new things. They can learn new things. They can give back.”
Others volunteers with Meals on Wheels, the East Texas Food Bank, and other ministries.
“They look for ways to serve those who simply need things, need something. Whether it’s just love. Whether it’s a meal. Whether it’s a warm cap on their head. They look to see how they can fill the needs of those in our community.”
Now 20 years after opening its doors, dozens of individuals are thriving due to an act of generosity set into motion by Jean Breckenridge, a mothers whose adult son, Jimmy, has a developmental disability.
In 1994, she donated the land and an estate gift to BCFS, the parent organization to BVT. Jimmy still lives at Breckenridge Village.
They recently opened three newly-constructed cottages and will holding a dedication on Friday, May 17th.
BVT is located on County Road 1145 in west Tyler.
To learn more about Breckenridge Village, click here.
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