Meet our friends Kathy and Kurt Heidmann, dedicated CLC Network volunteers, donors and advocates. Learn more about their passion for inclusion in the article below.
“My sister was so social, she would have thrived in an inclusive environment, to have kids go to lunch with her, do activities with her, and be her friends. When I see that in schools today, it is such a joy and a blessing,” shares Kathy Heidmann, a CLC Network volunteer, former board member, donor, and advocate. Kathy’s younger sister, Patti, was diagnosed with Williams Syndrome, a genetic disorder characterized by medical problems and highly social personalities. Patti attended the Pine Rest Children’s Retreat (CLC Network ’s predecessor) until she passed away at age 29.
Years later, Kathy’s parents, Jay and Kathleen Morren, were approached by CLC to help start the inclusion program at Byron Center Christian School in 1992. Kathy also served as a board member from 1998-2001. “It has been so fun to see how far we’ve come to reflect the body of Christ,” Heidmann shares.
With roots in Cutlerville, Michigan, Kathy and her family have helped CLC Network evolve and change throughout its history. “I am grateful for the Pine Rest Children’s Retreat because they recognized that these kids needed Christian education, and they provided it when no one else did. But to see how it’s emerged and become so much more a reflection of God’s Kingdom is really incredible.” In addition, Kathy and Kurt’s four kids attended area Christian schools.
“It blessed my kids to be exposed to inclusive education. I don’t know who it has blessed more: the kids in the program or the kids who walk alongside them,” Kathy reflects. “It broadens their perspective of the body of Christ; of who they are and what their responsibility is.
Kathy’s passion for inclusive education also draws on Romans 12 verses 4-5: For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
“When Patti was growing up, she was always a ‘lesser member’, but really she’s on an equal footing with everyone else. I’m not any better than my sister just because she was born with a disability and I wasn’t. Before Christ we are the same. It makes you look at things a little differently.”
CLC Network has also been grateful to enjoy Kathy and Kurt’s leadership over the years; currently, Kathy serves on the Auction Committee. She shares, “We don’t look at it as a responsibility to support CLC Network; it’s just a privilege. To have an organization like this that is so committed and well-run, we have a real gem. CLC Network isn’t just staying stagnant and doing one thing—you’re trying to reach other communities and trying new things. I think that’s great. “To see the body of Christ worked out in the Christian schools is such an incredible gift,” Kathy states. “I wish more people knew about CLC Network ’s mission and what we do.”
Learn more about our work to create inclusive communities in schools and churches throughout North America on our website, clcnetwork.org.
This article originally appeared in the CLC Network Spring 2014 issue of the Inclusive.
Elizabeth Lucas Dombrowski is the advancement director at CLC Network.