Hope for the Caregiver Conference

Saturday, Nov. 6
9:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.
Atrium, Plano Campus

Cost: $10 per family (includes lunch and refreshments)
Special-needs childcare available (indicate at registration)

Are you searching for answers on how to be an effective caregiver? Do you have a loved on with Alzheimer’s or dementia? Are you caring for a special-needs child or adult? Are you looking for tips about managing the financial and legal aspects of caregiving? Are you feeling exhausted and in need of understanding how to manage the stress you are experiencing?

Join us at the Hope for the Caregiver Conference, and choose from more than 25 breakout sessions and visit with more than 40 local vendors who can assist you in caring for your loved ones.

Schedule

  • Opening Session: 9:00 a.m.
  • Breakout Sessions: 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
  • Vendor Fair: 12:302:00 (Atrium)
  • Breakout Sessions: 2:00–3:00 p.m.

Breakout Topics include:

  • Effective Communication with a Person with Dementia
  • How to Prevent Elder Fraud and Abuse
  • How to Manage Caregiver Stress Rather Than is Managing You
  • Counted Worthy – Finding Comfort in the Midst of Suffering
  • Not Alone: Finding Hope on the Special Needs Journey

Session Topics

SELF-CARE

Speaker: Danny Mack

  • The warning signs of caregiver stress.
  • The do’s and don’ts of managing caregiver stress.
  • The elements of stress and how to manage them.
  • Six proven strategies for managing caregiver stress.

Danny Mack is a graduate of The University of North Texas, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and The Leading Age Leadership Institute. He is a Certified Dementia Practitioner. With more than 25 years of serving in the field of hospice, Danny is an expert on spiritual care, bereavement, caregiver stress management, and marketing. 

Speaker: Dr. Kelley Newcomer

Dr. Kelley Newcomer has more than 10 years’ experience in taking care of hospice patients, and is board certified in hospice and palliative medicine and internal medicine. She divides her time teaching as an assistant clinical and research professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and working as an associate director at Hope Health Care.

Dr. Newcomer likes to devote several hours per week making house calls to Hope Health Care patients to assure all their needs are met. She also has the opportunity to take along young physicians in training so that they, too, can learn how to better take care of end-of-life patients as Hope Health Care has a collaborative agreement with UT Southwestern to serve as a clinical training site to medical students, residents and fellows.

Speaker: Bent Shoellhorn

As Senior Helpers continues to lead the way for better care and an improved quality of life for its clients, they have recently introduced an assessment tool that will be instrumental in determining the essentials for successful aging. This tool will assess the risk level associated with each client and aid in providing an exceptional and appropriate plan of care.

Five Key Factors

  1. Medical Condition Management
  2. Quality of Life
  3. Burden of Care
  4. Independence
  5. Safety

We call it LIFE PROFILE!

Born in Germany, raised in California, and now living in Texas, Bent Schoellhorn has been married for 46 years, has three adult children and five awesome grandchildren. He has been a longtime member of Prestonwood Baptist Church. Bent currently serves on the board of the National Placement & Referral Alliance of DFW, whose mission is to cultivate the advancement of professionalism, fairness and the development of the senior placement and referral industry through collective initiatives to better serve seniors and their families. After his father’s passing and influenced by The Purpose Driven Life written by Rick Warren, Schoellhorn found his passion and purpose. He desired to help seniors age gracefully and provide a quality of life that they deserve. Schoellhorn became the owner of Senior Helpers of Greater Dallas in 2007.

Speaker: Joe Fornear

This session is for caretakers of cancer patients. Cancer caretakers are constantly asked how the patient is doing, but the well-being of the caretaker is often neglected or an afterthought. Yet if a caretaker burns out, those who benefit from their caretaking will suffer even more. We’ll discuss how God sustains caretakers, providing energy, balance and freedom from over-responsibility, and we’ll discuss how God gives us freedom from “a spirit of fear” (2 Timothy 1:7). Caretakers can grow in how to take care of their patients … and themselves!

Joe Fornear is founder and executive director of Stronghold Ministry (mystronghold.org), a non-profit ministry providing spiritual help to cancer patients and those in crisis. Joe had what doctors believed to be a terminal case of Stage IV metastatic melanoma that had spread to 13 areas including kidney, lung, pancreas and stomach. He was given just “days to live” in 2003. He had a miraculous recovery and has been cancer-free since August of 2003. Joe wrote about this amazing journey in the book My Stronghold: A Pastor’s Battle with Cancer and Doubts. With his wife, Terri, he wrote In His Grip: Meditations with the Great Physician, a devotional book on the struggles they faced and lessons they learned. Terri wrote Abiding through the Shadows: A Caretaker’s Struggle with the Goodness of God, and Dealing with Feelings. Joe also wrote a workbook, Journey with God through Suffering, to help people process suffering in light of promises in the Bible. An ordained minister, Joe has a master of theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. He founded and pastored a church in Dallas for 18 years, and then launched Stronghold Ministry in 2008. Joe and Terri have two grown children, a son, Jesse, and daughter, Amy. 

Speaker: Kathleen Warshawsky

Caregiving is stressful! This session will help you understand how caregiving can impact your health and leave you armed with tools to help. There are hundreds of local resources that can help you care for your loved one. Learn about some of these resources and how to find them. 

Kathleen Warshawsky is a registered nurse, owner and publisher of Seniors Blue Book Greater Dallas, and past president of the Dallas Area Gerontological Society. She began her nursing career in 1992 as a registered nurse and obtained her bachelor of science in nursing from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz., in 2013. Kathleen and her husband, Keith, live in Plano; their daughter, Vanessa, lives nearby in Dallas.

Speaker: Temi Charrier

An estimated 11 million caregivers are sandwiched between caring for their parents and their children, and even their grandchildren. Learn how this dual-duty caregiving role in the “sandwich generation” affects you and how to avoid getting toasted by caregiver burnout. 

Temi Charrier was born and raised in the suburbs of New Orleans, La., and graduated cum laude from the University of New Orleans with a degree in marketing. She began her healthcare career in assisting living in 2001, and moved into skilled home health in 2004 with Home Instead Senior Care in Huntsville, Ala.

In 2002, she founded the “Be a Santa to a Senior” program with one tree and 50 seniors at the local Walmart in Albertville, Ala. After joining the Home Instead Senior Care team in 2004, the home office adopted this program nationwide, and to date has served more than 750,000 seniors.

In 2009, she and her husband, John, moved to Lakeland, Fla., and began a Home Instead Senior Care office. In 2018, they sold their Lakeland business and purchased the Home Instead Senior Care office in Addison, Texas. In 2019, they moved their office to Coppell, Texas, the central part of their territory.

Temi is a living example of the “Sandwich Generation.” Temi and John have four kids from 3 to 16 years of age, and Temi’s parents live with them. Temi has a passion for seniors and ensuring they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

Speaker: Robbie McCullough

Everyone says they want to do it, but only a few know what it really means AND how to do it!

Come hear a Certified Senior Advisor give you real advice on how to age with dignity and grace!

Robbie McCullough is a 30-year financial services and insurance veteran with a passion for caregiving. Robbie’s personal life experiences and prior work history led him in a lifelong aspiration of building a homecare business. He was instrumental in the care and upbringing of his older sister who had Down syndrome. She recently passed away, further stirring his desire to make a personal impact in his local community by allowing those in need to age with dignity. 

Robbie is a graduate of Baylor University. He also holds a Certified Senior Advisor designation proctored by the Society of Senior Advisors Certified Employee Benefits designation through the Wharton School. He is the owner of Assisting Hands Home Care, a nationally recognized agency. He owns two territories and is the area representative for North Texas.

Speaker: Nora Gravois

We will explore common experiences, statements and feelings expressed by caregivers after their season of caregiving ended. If we could really “turn back time” as the song says, what would we do differently, see more clearly, or say to ourselves? This session will be an encouraging look at the caregiving experience from the perspective of permissions, understanding and compassion we can give ourselves now to help reduce regrets later.

Nora Gravois is a licensed master’s level social worker with independent practitioner recognition. She has practiced in clinical and non-clinical settings since 1987, working with individuals and families to provide supports with birth to end-of-life needs. Nora has experience as a geriatric social worker supporting patients and families in hospice, home health, intensive outpatient psychotherapy for older adults, memory care, and case management. Her passion is to provide dementia care and caregiver supports, helping older persons and their families with case-management support in the community, their home and in facilities. Nora provides community education, counseling and caregiver support to seniors and caregivers at the Wellness Center for Older Adults in Plano. Appointments can be made for individual or group support at 972-953-7669. 

Nora has been married to Mike since 1988; they have one adult daughter and chosen sons (now adults) by way of fostered relationships. She enjoys meeting people, traveling, reading, gardening and working outdoors; her favorite moments are spent laughing with friends. Nora and her husband have shared a passion for serving others in the community and in church ministry since 1996. 

CAREGIVING

Speaker: Jeff Cyk

Most people want to grow older in the comfort of their home, but many need extra support to be able to do so. There are many types of at-home healthcare that can help. There are also many misconceptions about the types of care offered in home settings. This can make it hard to know what kind of care would be right for you. This session will outline a number of them to help you decide if home health could be an option.

Home healthcare allows older adults who are recovering from injuries or managing acute or chronic health conditions to be where they want to be – at home. A number of the benefits of home healthcare will be addressed. 

Jeff Cyk has been in the senior healthcare field for five years and has been with Higher Standards Home Health for two years. His career started in non-medical private duty care. Jeff had a long career in the wholesale women’s accessory industry before making a major career change five years ago. As a teenager, he worked in a nursing home in N.J. and really enjoyed the experience. He decided to go into this industry as an adult because he is a people person and enjoys helping seniors. Jeff looks at himself not only as the business development manager for Higher Standards Home Health but as a resource for all families. He calls on internists, ortho surgeons, independent living and assisted living communities, rehabs and hospitals to obtain referrals for his company.

Speaker: Tom Brewster

This session will cover successful tips and strategies for caregivers that will help to reduce stress and increase the happiness level of both the caregiver and his/her loved one through the utilization of in-home care. It will also include suggestions for engaging family members in care decisions and how to select a care provider.

In 2009, Tom Brewster and his wife, Rhesa, saw a great need for a Christian in-home care company in the Dallas area and launched Heritage Keepers. The concept was not only to provide care for the physical needs of senior adults, but also to address the emotional and spiritual needs by placing Christian caregivers with clients. They hoped that praying with clients and encouraging them in spiritual issues  would help fill a gap that was desperately needed in the senior community.

More than a decade later, it is obvious that this approach has been successful. Heritage Keepers has worked with many seniors and families of seniors over these years and has been blessed to care for some wonderful people. Heritage Keepers’ caregivers are the lifeblood of the company, and they do a wonderful job completing the “Circle of Care” for their clients.

Tom has been an entrepreneur since 2002, owning several businesses since then. Recently, he decided to go into full-time ministry leading a missions organization, Christian Hands in Action. He has left the reigns to Heritage Keepers to Mary Kasinger, who has done a fantastic job taking care of the clients.

Tom and Rhesa have been married for 31 years and have three children, Will, Anna and Holly. They recently moved to Oklahoma to be close to their children and their first grandchild.

Speaker: Joyce Logan

This session will focus on the different options in senior living, from living at home to a senior living community or residential care home. The presenter will share her experiences in working with hundreds of families across the Metroplex and provide important questions to ask when evaluating and touring communities. Attendees will leave knowing the important aspects of the different types of communities and will have gained information that is vital in making the perfect selection.

Joyce Logan is a senior living advisor, Certified Dementia Practitioner and founder of Ruby Care. Joyce spent several years in social work and business development before Ruby Care became her vision, inspired during the time she spent caring for her mother-in-law, Ruby, beginning in 2011. She is actively involved in her community, including Junior League of Collin County; Women’s Auxiliary to Children’s Medical Center, Plano; and Alzheimer’s Association. She is a Leadership Plano graduate. When not working, Joyce enjoys tennis, walking, spending time with her friends, family and her dog, Sully.

Speaker: Frank Seddio

Learn how to turn a tough discussion into a treasured time of sharing. Discussing end-of-life wishes is a wonderful way to learn about a loved one’s life and how that person wishes to be celebrated. This session shares a simple approach for bringing up the topic and asking the right questions. Different options for end of life will be presented, and we will discuss necessary forms that allow your loved one’s wishes to be carried out.

Frank W. Seddio, Sr., has been a licensed funeral director and embalmer for the state of Texas since 1983. For the past several years, he has been the general manager for Local Cremation and Funerals in Dallas, and at Cremation of Texas, which covers most of the major metropolitan areas of Texas. Frank’s prior employment was with the two largest funeral/cemetery/crematory providers across the United States, and he was with them for more than 25 years. There, he managed funeral homes and cemeteries across Texas and was a part of their national acquisition team, buying and selling industry-related businesses for the corporation. He is a 1982 graduate of Dallas Institute of Funeral Science and currently sits on their board of directors. Frank is a past president of the North Texas Funeral Directors Association, and he served on the Texas Funeral Directors Association Board of Directors for many years. In addition to managing funeral homes, Frank is a state of Texas continuing education instructor for licensed social workers and professional counselors where he teaches end-of-life options relating to the grieving family.

Speaker: Mary-Lauren Shelton

As caregivers, we may often feel unsure or overwhelmed by what our loved ones should be eating to benefit their overall health. “Nutrition: Choices Today for a Healthier Tomorrow” is a presentation designed to educate and support caregivers by providing recommendations and strategies on food, nutrition and healthy habits.

Mary-Lauren Shelton, RDN, LD, CEDRD holds a bachelor of science in dietetics from the University of Kentucky Lexington where she also completed the coordinated dietetics program. Following graduation, Mary-Lauren moved back to her hometown of Dallas to work as a dietitian at an eating disorder treatment facility and at an in-patient mental health facility.

Mary-Lauren currently has a private practice in Richardson and is also licensed to practice in Kentucky, seeing clients through video chat. She specializes in working with adults and adolescents with eating disorders, including athletes and those with PCOS. Her approach involves working closely with her clients to create individualized treatment plans focusing on a non-diet, weight-neutral, all-foods-fit philosophy by providing nutrition education, and creating a healthy relationship between food, body and movement.

In her free time, she enjoys cooking, being outdoors, hiking or playing tennis with friends, and spending time with family and her dogs. Mary-Lauren also enjoys speaking to groups about nutrition, providing individual nutritional counseling in person, over the phone, and through virtual video conferencing to accommodate her clients’ schedules and physical needs.

Speaker: Kristine Reed

Cremation, as an option to burial, is on the rise. From simple to full-service cremation, this session discusses a variety of ways to celebrate a life when selecting cremation as final disposition. The options are truly limitless.

Born and raised in Ohio, Kristine Reed felt the call as a young teenager to serve grieving families. In high school, she volunteered at a funeral home. She earned a bachelor’s degree in interpersonal communication from Bowling Green State University and a mortuary science degree from the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. Kristine has been a licensed funeral director and embalmer for 13 years and is currently a general manager for Dignity Memorial, managing four locations in Frisco, Plano, Richardson and Dallas. Kristine and her team are committed to compassionately caring for each family while celebrating each life lived with dignity and honor.

Kristine lives in Fairview with her husband and their two children. They are members of First United Methodist Church in McKinney. Kristine is an accomplished pianist and enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She makes a point to find blessings in each and every day – always looking on the bright side.

Speaker: Anne Harduk

Explore the importance of planning ahead and the easy steps you can take to protect your family from stressful decision making at the time of your death. Beat inflation by locking in today’s costs rather than future higher costs and ensure that your wishes are followed. 

Anne Harduk began her career in the funeral and cemetery industry with Dignity Memorial in 2009. She quickly fell in love with helping families walk through those tough days after a loved one has passed with compassion and support. Anne manages a team of professionals who educate families about final planning across the Metroplex. She is knowledgeable in all areas of the funeral and cemetery business and is always willing to answer questions or help a family in any way. She has served thousands of families across North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

She is a wife, mother of five grown children and two grandchildren, and a “doggy mom.” She enjoys traveling, antiquing and celebrating special moments with family.

Speaker: Lori Williams

Lifelong Learners reap many benefits, including a healthier brain, staying socially connected, enjoying feelings of self-fulfillment and general happiness. In this interactive presentation, you will learn about the science that backs up these claims and get in touch with the lifelong learner inside of you!

Lori Williams is the owner of Lori Williams – Senior Services, LLC, and the host of the podcast, Aging in Style with Lori Williams. Lori is passionate about seniors living their best lives and has spent the last 16 years learning everything she can about senior living and services. For help with senior housing and services, contact Lori at 214-783-1222 or www.loriwilliams-seniorservices.com.

FINANCIAL/LEGAL

Speaker: Mark Pruitt

This workshop covers documents needed to navigate on behalf of someone plus creative ideas and tools to pay for long-term care, so the money does not run out. The purpose is to avoid mistakes that are made on behalf of a loved one when planning and paying for their care. Proactive planning vs. reactive planning is crucial for families who will take on the role of caregiver. 

Mark Pruitt is the founder and owner of Strategic Estate Planning Services in Dallas, a comprehensive planning firm that coordinates and provides resources in all areas of estate and financial planning. He is licensed with the Texas Department of Insurance and is an investment adviser representative. Mark was chosen as the “2012 Adviser of the Year,” a national award given by Senior Market magazine. He serves on the National Advisory Board of Retirement Advisers. His firm has been one of seven companies in Dallas promoted by Forbes and voted “Best in Client Satisfaction” by Texas Monthly magazine. 

Speaker: Steve Benton

Steve Benton helps older adults avoid the dangers of financial uncertainty and exploitation specializing in complex cases, including fraud, scams and elder financial abuse. He is an elder financial safety center financial coach and counselor at The Senior Source.

Steve has been active in the financial services industry for more than 40 years, including participation on industry boards, business conduct committees, and as a securities industry arbitrator. Steve began his career as an investigator for the National Association of Securities Dealers (now FINRA) and retired as Senior Vice President of ING’s flagship broker/dealer, Financial Network Investment Corporation, an organization of certified financial planners and other investment professionals.

He is a native of Dallas, a graduate of Texas Christian University, and was previously a volunteer in The Senior Source Money Management/Guardianship Program from 2010 until joining the Elder Financial Safety Center at its inception in 2014.

Speaker: Lorne Book

As our loved ones get older, they are also increasingly vulnerable to threats to their physical and financial security. From identity theft to nursing home negligence, this class will explore a number of different elder frauds and abuses, and how to protect your loved ones from outside (and inside) threats.

Lorne Book has been making estate planning easy for families for nearly a decade. Using his gifts of storytelling and illustration as teaching tools, Lorne helps clients understand the complexities of planning and caring for an aging loved one. For his efforts, Lorne has been recognized as a 2019 and 2020 Texas Super Lawyers “Rising Star” – an award given to less than three percent of all practicing attorneys. Lorne is a regular speaker on various estate-planning topics in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and is a deacon and teacher at Prestonwood Baptist Church, where he attends with his wonderful wife, Kym, and their four children, Roman (8), Shepherd (6), Judah (4) and Chapel (7 months.).

Speaker: Steven Shaw

As a caregiver to a Medicare beneficiary, you have many questions about which services are covered and which are not. You wonder: “What Medicare version is best for my situation?”

This session looks into some of the specific aspects of Medicare that are relative to memory care and long-term care. Understanding a few fundamentals can help lower anxiety and equip you to make wise decisions on behalf of your loved one.

Steven Shaw is a financial adviser with Strategic Estate Planning Services. He acquired his insurance license in 2002 and has helped hundreds of clients understand their Medicare benefits and options. He is a member of the National Social Security Association, and he is certified annually to assist people who wish to enroll in prescription drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans. He has taught many groups of various sizes about Medicare and approaches the topic with a “big picture” mindset.

MEMORY CARE

Speaker: Laura Lester

This session will cover tips and strategies for dealing with loved ones who have dementia and discusses the benefits of adult day care.

Prior to owning Encore Memory Care Day Center, Laura Lester has always been an entrepreneur and owned and invested in other small businesses. Because she has cared for loved ones with dementia in her family, this cause is especially dear to her heart. When the opportunity arose to invest in this venture, Laura and her husband gave capital to get it started, never dreaming that eventually she would be running it and looking forward to coming to work there every day. Laura has owned Encore for 11 years, and she and her staff consider it their ministry. “We have created a place that we would have had our loved ones attend, if it had been available when we needed it.”

Speaker: Della Pruitt

The journey of caring for a loved one with a dementia diagnosis is full of the unexpected. Each caregiver’s journey is different and unique yet holds commonalities with others. It can be daunting but also have special moments of joy. This session will discuss practical advice and offer encouragement and resources for each step along this journey that it may become rewarding, fulfilling and filled with grace.

Della Pruitt has been a member of Prestonwood Baptist Church for 20 years. Her journey with dementia began several decades ago when several family members were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Her mother passed away in 2015 after living with the disease for 20 years. She was the primary caregiver for her sister Nola, who had early-onset Alzheimer’s. Nola passed away in 2018 after having the disease for 11 years. Della started the Memory Care Support Group at Prestonwood. She enjoys connecting with other caregivers to give encouragement and share practical advice. She co-owns Strategic Estate Planning Services, Inc., with her husband, Mark Pruitt. She loves to sing/worship and is in the choir as well as the praise team. She has two daughters: Melody, 28, and Morgan, 27.  

Speakers: Jane Hunley

Communication is more than just talking and listening – it’s also about sending and receiving messages through attitude, tone of voice, facial expressions and body language. As people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias progress in their journey and the ability to use words is lost, families need new ways to connect. Join us to explore how communication takes place when someone has Alzheimer’s, learn to decode the verbal and behavioral messages delivered
by someone with dementia, and identify strategies to help you connect and communicate at each stage of the disease.

Learn about aducanumab (Aduhelm™), a new advancement in Alzheimer’s treatment. This program will provide an overview on how the drug was designed to work, who may be a candidate for treatment, potential benefits and side effects, availability and pathways for access, and Alzheimer’s Association resources.

Ms. Hunley is a licensed, masters-level social worker who was employed in various health and mental health areas for 40 years, with 35 of these years focused on work with older adults. She has worked in both the private and public sectors, most recently leaving a large health system after serving there for 33 years in her roles as social worker with elders, geriatric education and support services coordinator, and director of geriatrics. This employer served a large urban, diverse and primarily indigent population. In addition to management of senior clinic programs,  she was also responsible for community and home-based programs for older adults, best practice dissemination, coordination with other large ambulatory clinics providing primary care, and management of the facility refugee medical health program for several years. During her career, she has provided multiple professional presentations at the local, state and national levels and has received several awards, most recently the 2018 Community Impact Award from the Community Council of Greater Dallas.

Speaker: Cheryl Hanson

For centuries, we’ve known that the health of the brain and the body are connected. But now, science is able to provide insights into how to make lifestyle choices that may help you keep your brain and body healthy as you age. Join us to learn about research in the areas of diet and nutrition, exercise, cognitive activity and social engagement, and use hands-on tools to help you incorporate these recommendations into a plan for healthy aging. 

Cheryl Hanson is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a bachelor of science in education. She was the education manager for the Alzheimer’s Association and is currently a speaker’s bureau member and ambassador for that organization. She is passionate about improving brain and heart health.

Speaker: Beth Appleby

Alzheimer’s and other dementias cause memory, thinking and behavior problems that interfere with daily living. Join us to learn more about typical age-related changes, common signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia, tips for how to approach memory concerns, the importance of early detection and benefits of diagnosis, the diagnostic process, and helpful Alzheimer’s Association resources.

Beth Appleby combines her nine years as an educator and five years as a realtor to bring to life the Ebby Halliday Companies’ mission of “people first, elevating real estate, lasting relationships.” As a volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association, as well as a member of the Grayson County CASA Board of Directors, Beth enjoys building strong relationships and supporting her community.

SPECIAL NEEDS/DISABILITIES

Speaker: Tresi Weeks

Regular estate planning is not sufficient for families who have a loved one with special needs. A special needs trust should be part of their plan. At this presentation, we will discuss:

  • Special needs trusts basics
  • Government benefits and how an inheritance affects them
  • Practice case studies on possible scenarios
  • Creating a letter of intent
  • “Choosing the T”

Tresi Weeks is an attorney and founder of The Weeks Law Firm, PLLC, in Plano, where she assists clients with estate planning, special needs planning, special needs trusts, probate and guardianship. After 11 years as a trial attorney, she opened her own estate-planning law firm 18 years ago. As an advocate for her own child’s special needs, she is passionate about helping families with loved ones with special needs. She lives with her husband, Kevin, and they are active members of Watermark Community Church in Dallas.

Speaker: Nichole Huggins

Sometimes it feels as if you are all alone on this Special Needs journey. As the parent of a special needs child and someone who “gets it,” Nichole shares with transparency some of the obstacles caregivers face, practical ways to live in the trenches without losing your joy, and will encourage you to live courageously as you make a way for your loved one with special needs.

Nichole Huggins is a wife and mother of two. Nichole speaks and writes out of a deep desire to meet people where they are and to lead them to the foot of the Cross. Nichole is a partner with Joni and Friends and is a contributor to their blog, Irresistible Church. Her articles have been featured at Disciple and Crosswalk.com. As the parent of a special needs child, Nichole willingly discloses the trials, triumphs and life lessons of having a child with autism. Nichole writes her own blog at www.LoveinaDifferentLanguage.com where she offers insight and hope as she shares about parenting and autism, and the faith that holds them together. Nichole is the Director of Special Needs at Prestonwood Baptist Church. She enjoys sharing her passion for helping to equip the Church to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Speaker: Connor Bales

What does it look like for us to see and embrace our seasons of suffering through a redemptive lens? This conversation will focus on the aspects of suffering that are to be stewarded for the service of others, our own good and the glory of God. Through personal story, and with God’s word woven throughout, Pastor Connor Bales will share his understanding of God’s counting him and his family “worthy” of suffering, as they love and care for two daughters with severe special needs.

Dr. Connor Bales serves as the North Campus Pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church and has been in vocational ministry for the past 12 years. Connor is a graduate of Texas Tech University, where he met his wife, Mary. He received his master’s degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and his doctorate from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to his educational achievements, Connor is a proud father to Kathryn, Coleman, Libby, Hannah and Campbell. He is passionate about special needs ministry and is committed to reaching families affected by disability with the love of Christ.

Speaker: Brian Page

For individuals with special needs, what does it look like to have a dream fulfilled? How do we help those with intellectual and developmental disabilities realize their desires? Be inspired as you hear one family’s on-going journey with their miracle son. (Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” —Matthew 19:26)

Brian Page is the senior vice president of Shepherds College in Union Grove, Wisc., a Christian, three-year, post-secondary, fully accredited school for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

In November, Brian and Dr. Natalie (a college chief academic officer) will celebrate 35 years of marriage. The Pages have three adult children, Harold, a senior marketing analyst at Southwest Airlines headquarters, (Sofia, his wife, a case manager at Parkland Hospital in Dallas); Benjamin, their special needs son; and Autumn Grace, a senior at Wheaton College and future attorney representing marginalized people groups. 

Brian is an excellent communicator, has an MBA from Regent University, and is a licensed and ordained chaplain. Previously he held various roles as pastor, executive director, regional vice president, financial planner, and investment manager. 

A passionate advocate for individuals with special needs, Brian loves sports and enjoys traveling and beach vacations with his family.      

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Next Step Class

This class serves as the centerpiece for helping new members and those considering Prestonwood plug in to the life and ministries of our church.

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