On Saturday August 18, eight Orthodox clergy, future residents and their families, and friends of the Sheltering Tree gathered in an open lot in Bellevue, Nebraska--despite the threat of rain--to pray with His Grace, Bishop Basil of The Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America, as he blessed the building site for The Sheltering Tree I, a communal residence for developmentally disabled persons.
The Sheltering Tree I is the result of much faith and prayer and hard work. This first Sheltering Tree will be a home for 10 developmentally disabled persons who will enjoy independence in their own distinct apartments, surrounding common areas for community life. Live-in managers will provide support for the residents. The two-acre site was secured with funding via a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant, The Topeka Federal Home Loan Bank, and many personal offerings--totaling over $2 million.
God’s presence was evident at the blessing when the rainy clouds dispersed and warm rays of sunshine accompanied His Grace’s arrival at the site. Such blessings are not uncommon within the story of the Sheltering Tree. The Sheltering Tree Board of Directors (the majority of whom are Orthodox clergy and laity) has been leading this mission since 2007 and though the trials have been numerous, God’s graces are greater! Out of 500 regional applications, the Sheltering Tree project was one of only two recipients of HUD funding. Mr. Timothy Hemseth (a University of Nebraska at Lincoln architectural green building instructor) and the architectural firm of ASD Stanley J. How have completed the eco-friendly building design. Fund- and friend-raising will continue under the direction of Mrs. Shirley McNally, President of the Sheltering Tree board, and her dedicated directors.
More information and a virtual tour of the future Sheltering Tree 1 residence are available at the Sheltering Tree website.