Join Us At The Table!

Are you are a seasoned disability ministry leader or volunteer or someone armed with only a vision of an adaptive ministry for your church? Then please join us at The One Roof Initiative’s 2nd Annual Adaptive Ministry Round Table the morning of Saturday, August 27th at St. James United Methodist Church in Tampa!

This interactive time of networking and facilitated questions is designed so that attendees can learn from some of the best teachers…each other! Whether your church just wants to learn more about this still emerging ministry realm or you’d like to learn tips and best practices from fellow veterans, please plan to join us!

Last year’s Round Table had eleven churches from the Tampa Bay area represented and was a great success! Some of the feedback from guests included, “Very encouraging how open and sharing everyone is!”, “Inspiring”, “Very well done”, “(A) good beginning for me”. Almost all of the feedback requested that an additional hour be added because of the rich networking and learning. We’ve listened to that advice and have done just that, making this a three hour event from 10am-1pm!

Reverend Bill Fisackerly,  Senior Pastor of St. James UMC, will speak to attendees offering encouragement and spiritual refreshment. This personal time to fortify is essential for us as individuals, which translates to our ministerial work.

This first Round Table accomplished what was intended. Connections were made, there were inspiring conversations and passionate, dedicated servants were encouraged. The One Roof is committed to making this year’s event better than the last and we are confident that this will be an opportunity not to be missed!

The Round Table is free of charge and a light lunch will be provided.

Great networking and learning? No charge AND a lunch is provided? How can you say “no”?! Can’t wait to see you August, 27th!

Register by completing the form below or click here.

Disability and Your Church 2016!

Wow! That’s the first thought that comes to mind when I think about the Disability and Your ChurchSymposium that was hosted by both The One Roof Initiative and Idlewild Baptist Church on Saturday, April 23rd.  Nearly 100 guests representing 30 churches attended a day chock-full of learning relevant and practical information in how church teams can start to confidently meet the needs of individuals and families impacted by disability so that the love of Christ can be shared and His word learned.

Almost as well received as the learning, were the three networking opportunities that were built into the day. One hour of presentation was followed by a time of networking in which what was learned was excitedly shared between guests. Adaptive ministry and community leaders, as well as our presenters, were pointed out in the audience and people were encouraged to speak to them to glean further useful information.

The excitement generated by this event can be felt through some of the comments noted by guests on their feedback forms….“Wow! This has been insightful”. “This event was AMAZING to realize how much support we have, such as people EXCITED to help us begin in our own parish. I’m amazed to see so many beautiful people in one place!”

“I’ve learned so much! I want to learn more and make this happen!”.

The interest in this symposium, reflected by the numbers in attendance and the fact that church representatives drove from as far as Orlando, Englewood and Spring Hill, confirm that our churches are being met with challenges that they may not be fully equipped for. The numbers also reflect that these churches have the initiative and heart to step up to the plate to meet these challenges, making our congregations more accessible and inclusive, affording all of what our local churches offer to all…namely, the hope of Christ.

Thank you to Idlewild Baptist Church for the use of its facilities and services. Maybe of more value is the incredible servant and gracious hearts of all the staff and volunteers whose “no problem” attitude and commitment to excellence was a blessing. There would not be an event without our expert presenters…
Dr. Sylvia Diehl from the USF Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, speaking on Communication; Ellie Weber, M.Ed  and
Denise Barnes, MA, both from the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at USF (CARD-USF), who taught on Positive Behavior Support and Safety, respectfully, and Susan Triggiano, MS, who shared how to warmly welcome families into our congregations and adapting curriculum, among other topics. As always, a warm thank you to the incredible volunteers who helped create a professional and hospitable environment.

The One Roof Initiative is committed to coming alongside churches to help them, on any level, to successfully bring individuals with disabilities and their families into their church folds, at no charge. Contact us for more information about our consulting services.

Join us Saturday, August 27th, 10am-12pm at St. James UMC in Tampa for our Adaptive Ministry Roundtable! Meet church teams from around the area who are doing, or are interested in doing, disability ministry. This is a lower key event which is intentional in fostering networking and discussion with like-minded servants. Watch for more updates on this event as we get closer!

Best Yes

But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.
She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”  Luke 10:40

This month we are going to talk about “our best yes” and learn the difference between saying yes to everyone and yes to God.  Our days are jam packed with schedules which often provokes stress and anxiety.  We live in such a place of busyness striving to get our “to do list” checked off but our souls are empty, dissatisfied, and weary.  Lets talk about 3 ways we can change our perspective
so these mountains of worry are not in front of us but under us as we soar above!

Giving Our BEST YES Requires Pushing Through People Pleasing

Kristin Cameron is a wife, registered nurse, and mom to a cheerful
and creative 9 year old who has a congenital disorder called Albright’s Hereditary Osteodystrophy.  Jordyn’s disorder causes hormone imbalances, cognitive,
and social delays.  When I asked Kristin about saying no in order to give her
best yes, this is what she had to say:

“I realized I was afraid of saying no because my biggest fear is rejection.
I was afraid that every time I did this, I would disappoint someone, make them angry, or appear unkind or rude…Today, instead of blurting out yes, I try my best to pause and check with my family and our schedule before I answer”.

Just like Kristin, just like Martha, and just like many of us, we aim to please so we do more than we should which invites more stress into our lives.  But what Kristin is learning can help all of us-pause, really think about the question being asked, talk it over with family, check the schedule, and make a decision that is not rushed or hurried.

Giving Our BEST YES Requires Wisdom

Stacy Hester is a full time caregiver, owns a cleaning business, and single mom to a funny and bright 12 year old.  Kenton has Aspergers, PTSD, severe anxiety, and SVT (heart condition).  When I asked Stacy about using wisdom in giving her best yes she offered some good advice:

“First, I take a deep breath or ten. I talk to God, seek His word and reflect on past experiences. If need be I seek wise counsel. If it is something that could do permanent damage to Kenton, I call up the manual (that is what we call his counselor)”.

The quote, “It takes a village” is very applicable when it comes to making decisions!  Just like Stacy reaches out to her counselor and Martha reached out
to Jesus, we need to seek counsel in the areas of our life where we need help.
There should never be shame in doing this.  We are better because of others insight, knowledge, ideas, and experiences.

Giving Our BEST YES Requires Taking Care Of Ourselves

When we care for ourselves we are actually taking better care of those in our lives.  When we get refreshed we bring that peace back into our home.  But often we fall into the trap of feeling guilty thinking about ourselves when others need us or there is much to be done in the day.

Kristin gives great insight into how she makes self care a daily priority:

“To make sure I don’t neglect this due to a never ending pile of laundry or ‘to do” list,
I schedule time for myself for 20 minutes every morning, I take a lunch break every day, and I make sure that I choose an activity for me at least (i.e. watch a TV show, paint my nails, walk around Walmart, take a hot bath). I also try to remember that it takes a village to raise a child, and there are so many family members and friends who would love to spend time with Jordyn, especially if they knew that it was something that would allow me to be a better mother to her.”

And this is where we wrap up as we glean from Kristin and Stacy and the Word of God.  Mary knew what was MOST important at that particular moment would bring her lasting refreshment, joy, and peace.  Can you imagine how well she was able to love others that day by not focusing on the moutains of distraction and worry and busyness but instead rising above them?!  Lets try to be men and women who give our children the best version of ourself by pushing through people pleasing, seeking wisdom, and taking care of ourselves!

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed–or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:41, 42

*For more on this topic check out Lysa Terkeurst’s book, The Best Yes.


“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.  When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
2 Corinthians 1:4

This month we are going to talk about being AUTHENTIC which the Webster’s Dictionary defines as real, genuine, and true.  The more authentic we are, the more authentic others will be.  We all have a story and that story matters and can be used to help others.  If God has comforted you, its so you can comfort others.  Lets talk about 3 ways being authentic helps others!


Evelyn Mann is a stay at home mom who lives in Tampa, Florida and has a son with a rare disease of only 7 in the world. When I asked her how important it was to be authentic with others about her situation, this is what she said,

“When asked about my son’s size and age, I answer openly wanting to engage in the conversation. I explain my son has dwarfism which accounts for his small size. If the person pauses, I add that his diagnosis is Thanatophoric dwarfism which means death bringing in Greek. And then further explain that God had other plans, and my son is now ten years old.”

Her response allows her to inform others about the diagnosis and also opens the conversation up to what God has done!  She takes a simple question asked and turns it into a testimony.
Authenticity Quote 2


Cheryl Boyles is a working mom in the Tampa Bay area and has 2 sons.
Her 13 year old has been diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder
and is very functional until he is sensitized or goes into fight or flight mode. When I asked her  how being authentic helps others this is what she said:

“By being authentic, you find people who have hurts or issues of their own, or maybe in their families are willing to be more open and at ease, but also willing to ask the questions they may not be willing to ask otherwise.  Sometimes, it gives them a chance to even know they have questions or concerns as they allow themselves to open up and explore.”

How else can we connect with others if we’re not real?
People need hope like diabetics need insulin.  If we don’t give what
we have then its robbing others of receiving something they might
desperately need.  The ability to connect with others is a powerful
tool in healing.  Hearing the words “me too” can bring comfort
and relief for someone who may feel all alone.
Authenticity Quote 1


Evelyn has found purpose in her story and is helping others
do the same through her blog:

“I have found being authentic helps me to engage and bring awareness
to our special needs journey. And, for me, I’d rather be open than not.
So much so I have a weekly blog giving readers a view of our world as
told from my heart of being a mother.  The message of the blog is to offer
hope to those in similar circumstances and focus on motherly topics
such as worry, joy, fear, hope, faith and love.”

You can read Evelyn’s blog at  She is currently writing a book and  receives inquiries from around the world asking about her son’s miraculous survival.  She has embraced the pain and allowed the comfort
of the Holy Spirit to work in her and through her to encourage others.
It doesn’t get more inspiring than that!!

Erin Blair
Under Construction:  A One Roof Initiative Blog Series


Introducing The One Roof Blog Series: Under Construction!

I am very excited to introduce a new One Roof blog series, Under Construction! This series will focus on caregiving….for the caregiver. As the “engines” of our families, best caring for them begins by best caring for ourselves, but often, we are at the end of that list.

With the challenging responsibilities, many layered emotions and the physical and emotional fatigue that come from raising children or family members with disabilities, it is very easy to slip into routines where we pay little to no attention to ourselves. We must begin to believe that taking care of ourselves, physically, emotionally and spiritually, is as an important a therapy for our child / family member as any prescribed therapy that we seek for them.

Spearheading this series will be our primary contributor, Erin Blair.  Erin is an incredible woman of faith whose number one passion is for people to find freedom in their life from whatever is holding them back from being who they were created to be and self-care, in its many forms, is central to that. She is committed to the belief that a parent who respects their own care can only increase the quality of life for their children.

A theme that will be central to “Under Construction” is authenticity. This won’t be your fluffy, 5-step, perfect life kind of blog. This will be “embracing your hot mess self” kind of reading full of authenticity, hope, resources, and practicality.

Erin writes from the perspective of a busy wife and mother. She and Pastor Matt Blair have been married for 12 years and lead their growing one and a half year old church plant, Limitless, in Tampa, Florida. They are the parents of four girls, ages 10 and under. With a lot of life happening under her roof, Erin realizes that at times, Happy Meals win over a home cooked meal, picking clothes off the floor takes a back seat to getting everyone out the door for school on time and carving a few minutes for yourself can only be responded to with “Seriously?!”.

As Erin has noted, “I don’t have all the answers but I am in process of trying to become the best version of myself through the grace of God”.


Erin is not the parent of a child with special needs, but she will be consulting
with parents for each of her postings insuring that what she writes is relevant
to our audience.

It is our prayer that “Under Construction” will be inspiring and empowering
to our readers. Watch for our first post coming in April! Be blessed.

Sally Depalma, The One Roof Initiative Executive Director & Founder

Disability and Your Church – Now Free To Attend!

The One Roof Initiative is proud to partner with Idlewild Baptist Church, once again, to host “Disability and Your Church” on Saturday, April 23rd, 8:30 am to 1:30 pm!  This four hour symposium will feature experts presenting on the topics of communication, behavior, adapting curriculum and safety.  Last year our Symposium focused on autism.  This year we are broadening the focus to include multiple disabilities.

More and more of our churches are hosting families with either children or adults with disabilities, with varying degrees of success. Church staff and volunteers, who typically aren’t special needs professionals, are trying to accommodate those that the Lord is bringing to them, but lack of knowledge
and proper support can lead to a frustrating experience for all involved.

Church teams are invited to attend “Disability and Your Church”
to learn relevant, practical information and tips to take back to their church homes to implement. Last year’s event attracted nearly 100 participants representing 16 churches and was extremely well reviewed!

Whether you attended last year or not, you will take away a wealth
of information to support your efforts in working with children
and adults with disabilities.

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it”
(I Cor. 12:27). The Church is not fully “The Church” until all can be
fully welcomed.  Adaptive ministry does take some preparation and knowledge to be properly and successfully implemented, but it can be done. Please join us!

Due to the generous underwriting of this event by donors,
this event is no charge to attendees!

Registration 8:30-9am; Event 9am-1:30pm
Lunch is included!  Register Online Here

Event Organizer:
The One Roof Initiative
phone: 813-804-TORI (8674)

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The One Roof Initiative!

Happy New Year! 2016 marks the beginning of the third full year of ministry for The One Roof Initiative!  Our mission statement, “to offer support for the spiritual, practical and social needs of the disability community by engaging individuals, the Church, and the community” is the touchstone which drives what we do.   The programs that we have initiated to date reflect our mission statement…

Training and Equipping: The core of who we are, our training and equipping offerings  help churches confidently open their doors to individuals with disabilities and their families to engage in the life of the church.

Disability and Your Church Symposium: This symposium will equip church leaders and volunteers with practical ways to welcome or enhance ministry to those living with disabilities.

Adaptive Ministry Roundtable: The roundtable provides a forum for adaptive ministry leaders and volunteers to develop a network, share ideas and be inspired and refreshed in their ministry work.

Warmline Phone Ministry (being piloted): The mission of the Warmline phone ministry is to offer hope to those impacted by disability through empathy, encouragement and support.

These past two years have been important as we have worked to lay the foundation for this ministry. We are learning from experience and this maturing is already influencing and improving ways in which we operate, seeking to expand our reach and to insure the delivery of ministry to excellence. This will also allow us a strong platform with which to build more ambitious projects upon in the years to come.

There are great needs within the disability community of Tampa Bay and the numbers of individuals impacted are great, as well. In Hillsborough County alone, there are 30,000 children and over 120,000 adults recognized as having some type of disability. These statistics do not include the number of immediate family members who are directly affected, easily doubling or tripling numbers of those who need support on many levels.

This great need only affirms our belief and commitment to the notion that the Church must be informed and get involved, offering the hope, hands and feet of Christ to this underserved population. By partnering with, mobilizing and inspiring the Church, in collaboration with established community initiatives, incredible spiritual and earthly blessing will be realized.

The One Roof Initiative has an exciting and ambitious vision and we are excited about what 2016 holds!

Interested in supporting The One Roof with your time or gifts? Check out our website at or email me at

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down ones life for ones friends.  John 15:13

A Season That Can Last

Peace. Joy. Hope. Tis the season where we see these encouraging words almost everywhere…. television commercials, cards, decorations, coffee house cups and more.

Tis the season where we are more aware of the needs in our communities and we volunteer at food banks, donate to toy drives or drop a few dollars into that red kettle.


This Advent season is special and wonderful and it is capped by us celebrating our Savior Lord’s birth, but come December 26th and beyond, how will I be showing “goodwill towards men” or experiencing the blessings of peace, joy and hope within myself?



In John 10:10, Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly”. Christ came into this world as God’s ambassador, sent from Heaven to tell us of His love and to be the bridge between us and God. This is not just a seasonal event to celebrate, but a daily fact for us to embrace.

Can I find peace when I’m anxious about an uncertain future?

Can I be joyful and hopeful when circumstances around me are anything but? The answer is “yes”, and can be found in Jesus, who is Immanuel, God with us. (Isaiah 7:4)

Christmas is God’s reminder that we are not alone, Jesus Christ is here.

He is here to give us hope, to forgive our sins, to offer a joy that circumstances can’t steal and to heal spiritual wounds, if we let Him. This Good News is for us and for us to share and express to others, everyday.


Jesus came to the world so we could know, once and for all, God’s love and concern for us.

May His light shine in your life this Christmas season and throughout the year!

  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace. Luke 2:14


One of my favorite quotes has nothing to do with Scripture but I believe
a faith truism can be extracted from the Boz Scaggs song, Lowdown
”Got to have a Jones for this, Jones for that;
This runnin’ with the Jones’s boy just ain’t where it’s at”.

This one line has made me wonder over the years who or what in my life have
I made my “Jones”?  Who or what have I put on an elusive and truly artificial pedestal that culture says is valueable and I thought I had to keep up with?
My “respectable” degree in Pharmacy, or at this stage in my life, the type of degree that my child is pursuing (and at what college)? The car I drive?
The type of neighborhood I live in? How my child is progressing in school compared to peers?

Watching television commercials for just a few hours can be a confidence kicker and foster an insatiable want for “the good stuff”…I can be thinner, my kitchen trendier (and cleaner), my car more luxurious, etc. Are there families out there that all look as if they were birthed from the Ford Modelling Agency AND they get along while setting an emaculate dinner table? Madison Avenue is hard wired to sell the notion that what you and I each have is not enough. They want you to want and want can be a frustrating pit, some may say a gnawing, that is typically hard, if not impossible, to fill.

“Want” can be pushed back, though, by gratitude. Gratitude is an appreciativeness or thankfulness for the things we DO have in our lives.
Science actually backs up what people of faith have known for so long,
that “counting your blessings” is a blessing in itself.

Dr. Robert Emmons, considered the world’s leading researcher on gratitude
has determined that people who have a disposition of gratefulness report higher levels of life satisfaction and lower levels of depression and stress, are viewed as more generous and helpful towards others and place less importance on material goods; they are less likely to judge their own and others success in terms of possessions accumulated. They are less likely to be envious of others.
This scientist has also noted that people of faith are more likely to be grateful.

How can we start to infuse gratefulness into our lives? We can start by being aware of what we can be thankful for….the sun streaming through a window;
a kind stranger helping us with groceries in the rain; a son or daughter with sensory challenges tries a bite of a new food after many months or gets a “C”
on an assignment when they were previously failing, a rare movie night together as a family and more. Two things that come to my own mind are my incredible (and funny!) family and the blessing of being involved with The One Roof and the many people involved who add so much to my life. These and all of life’s gifts can be credited to a gracious and giving God.

Make a list of what and who you are grateful for over a few days or use
a “gratitude app” (they’re out there) and notice how much you DO have.
Pray these back to God and give Him thanks for all the things that He has done. Take the extra step of thanking someone who has made a difference in your life. That act alone can build gratitude in that person.

Madison Avenue may try to sell us it’s view of contentment, but it is the Lord
that truly satisfies and is the source of all and for His presence in my life, I am eternally grateful.

 “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! 
Give thanks to him; bless his name!” Psalm 100:4

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Another Night of Hope!

The One Roof Initiative’s second annual Night of Hope on September 26th was
an incredible evening as 193 people came together to celebrate the mission and vision of the ministry! From the interactive reception hour to The Portico Chorus who closed the night and brought the house down, it was a wonderful night of sharing and celebrating.
The Night of Hope, with this year’s tagline, “Just Imagine”, is a fundraising event for The One Roof, but it is also an opportunity to learn about the ministry and it’s vision and mission.

Guests were greeted at the front doors by Canines for Christ, a therapy dog ministry. Nothing says “welcome” better than loving dogs and these pups have blessed many of the special needs ministries around Tampa Bay as they visit children and adult programs.  Once inside the ballroom, guests were invited to participate in the very fun and interactive reception hour!  There is no better way to get to know this ministry than get to know who we are about, individuals with disabilities, and we had plenty of opportunities for our guests to meet these great people.  A facilitated drum circle was too much fun and popular as new guests to the circle would have their names chanted! Guests were also invited to sit and paint with artists from Idlewild Church and to join The Pyramid Dancers from Pyramid, Inc.  It was hard not to dance with that troupe once the Cha Cha Slide started!
Eric Seidel, former Consumer Attorney from Fox 13, was our wonderful Master of Ceremonies of the evening and champion of The One Roof, Eric Mudge, opened our evening as host. Stories of how God and the Church have been integral in their lives were shared by Carmen Shank, about her and her husband’s son, Andrew, and by 25 year old, Sam Piazza, a young man with Down Syndrome and a self-proclaimed advocate for those with disabilities. I ended the speaking portion of the program by relating the mission of The One Roof and casting the vision that the Lord has placed up the hearts of my team and I.
The Portico Chorus, a community chorus comprised of members both with
and without disabilities and a ministry of Hyde Park United Methodist Church, capped the evening off wonderfully! From the beautiful and familiar, “Pure Imagination”, to the “you’ve got to be on your feet!” Mujer Latina (with 200 people shaking maracas!!) and ending with “Lean on Me”, there was no better way to end an incredible evening of celebrating us as a community and God’s hand at work within that!
It was a blessed evening. Comments heard afterward included, “I left happier than when I came!” and “You could feel the love”.

We celebrate what has been accomplished in 2015 and are excited about what the Lord has in store through The One Roof Initiative in 2016 and beyond!

“ Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs….” Psalm 100, v.1-2.

It’s not too late to support this ministry!

Sally Depalma, The One Roof Initiative Executive Director & Founder

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