Donor Profile: Ruth and Jim Sytsma
“Getting to know All Belong was a learning process for me, but it really opened my eyes to the potential of every kid,” recalls Jim Sytsma about his previous service on the All Belong Board of Directors. He knew little about the organization at the time but was willing to help serve.
When we were growing up, kids with disabilities were totally separated from everyone else,” remembers Ruth Sytsma. “They were brought up so differently, and we were never taught how to interact with each other.”
Now, Jim and Ruth rejoice in the friendships that their grandson, Eli, has formed at church and at school.
“Eli’s classmates know he is Eli, who has Down syndrome. They know him as so much more than a kid with Down syndrome,” reflects Jim. “He is able to participate in everything and he has close friends.”
Ruth contrasts this with what she saw growing up. “Eli’s teachers have always been so well trained in knowing him and how to spend time with him.”
Today, Jim and Ruth volunteer on the All Belong Auction Committee, helping to secure sponsorships and items for the community fundraiser. “When we invite others to give and explain what it’s all about, we can see that it’s really a privilege for donors to be a part of this mission. It is always a joy for people to have the opportunity to give to it,” shares Ruth.
Jim adds, “We are all a family, and inclusion is about everyone and not just individuals. We support this mission because it is a ministry reaching out to all those who need it, showing the love of Christ to individuals and families.”
Passionate about inclusive education? Make a contribution to All Belong to create inclusive communities for persons of all abilities.
Elizabeth Lucas Dombrowski is the All Belong executive director.