by Kathy Twigg, Executive Director of Emerging Stars
“Two years ago, I realized that my 26-year-old son, who is developmentally delayed, needed more activities in his life and a community to be involved in. This realization has since led to the foundation of Emerging STARS, a nonprofit organization that empowers and encourages young adults with developmental disabilities. This adventure did not start two years ago, it began in my heart the day Jonathan came into my life.
In 1991, my husband and I sat with Julie, a social worker from Bethany Christian Services to sign papers to initiate adoption procedures. Julie told us it would be two years or more for a child to become available. At that time, God put on my heart to tell her that we were open to any special children because we wanted what God wanted. It was just a last-minute thought as she walked out the door. I did not know that that statement would change my life forever. Within one week, Julie called us and said she had a child for us. A state social worker had called Julie and had a baby boy that she was preparing to place in foster care.
Julie explained that the mother had taken drugs that could have potentially harmed the baby. She also said the mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and the baby would be tough to place for adoption.
He had not been aborted because some nurses had kept the homeless mother in the hospital for the last trimester of her pregnancy. They took care of her and gave her baby, my son, life. Jonathan’s birth mom loved Johnathan, but her addiction and her own developmental delays kept her from keeping him. It was God's miracle that Jonathan was born and then ended up in the arms of my husband and me.
Jonathan and his girlfriend Rachel at Night to Shine
Kirk and I had been involved with the pro-life movement for years. We had marched in Washington and knocked on doors to influence legislation, and now we were blessed with the opportunity to parent and love a child saved by God's grace. The moment Jonathan was placed in our arms, we began our journey of raising our special child in a society that rates success by IQ, accomplishments, and influence.
As I watched Jonathan grow into adulthood, I saw a huge gap and need in his and his friends' lives. At age 22, they could no longer attend school, and most churches could not accommodate them because they were too old for the youth group and too immature for young adult ministry. Many were unemployable. Those who had job skills and found employment typically worked only 10 to 15 hours a week.
These young adults have no social life, no place to experience God, no community engagement, and no opportunity to continue developing in their daily living skills. Many spend their days alone with TV and video games.
Most clearly of all, I saw their extreme loneliness.
I saw the heart of God for this growing population of young adults, and I knew that He would not leave them unengaged, unconnected, and alone. Seeing their potential through His eyes, I felt led to leave my job of fifteen years as a Children's Pastor and to take on the new adventure of Emerging STARS."
Established in 2017 in Spotsylvania, VA, Emerging STARS is an organization driven by faith, bold actions, and a strong foundation of support. Emerging STARS is a 501 (c)(3). Your donation is tax-deductible.
Dealing with the challenges of today requires problem-solvers who bring different perspectives and are willing to take risks. Emerging STARS emerged out of pursuit to help young adults with developmental disabilities live full and active lives recognizing that God has a plan for their lives.
Kathy Twigg has a B.S in education from Malone College in Canton, Ohio. After graduation, she spent ten years teaching in various public schools. Kathy spent the next 15 years in full-time family ministry at her church, where she oversaw and helped develop a ministry for students with disabilities. She quickly recognized that once young adults with developmental disabilities graduated from high school, they became disengaged with the community and confined to their homes, and if they were able to obtain a job, it was only 10-15 hours a week. Kathy experienced this first hand as her son who has developmental disabilities.
God gave Kathy a vision to bridge the gap in her community, which culminated in the creation of Emerging STARS, a unique program to empower young adults with developmental disabilities to live active and fulfilled lives.