It was 1957 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin when parents of a son with intellectual disabilities approached their Sunday school class and asked a probing question. "Would they consider doing something for children with intellectual disabilities?" The church was Garfield Baptist (Spring Creek Church) and the outpouring of compassion that erupted from that class has cascaded down through multiple generations, profoundly impacting the lives of people with intellectual disabilities.
At first it was baby sitting and day-care, but soon this class of caring couples saw a vision for a broader ministry to other families with children who were intellectually disabled. With much prayer and even greater faith, a boarding school was established for children with intellectual disabilities.
In 1964, Shepherds Home and School opened its doors welcoming 36 children. At that time, little was being done in public education to address the needs of this special population. Shepherds Home and School provided an essential service to these children and their families.
As the children grew and as public education began providing special education services, Shepherds transitioned into an adult ministry, focusing on vocational training. Today, Shepherds Enterprises provides vocational training to adults with intellectual disabilities. About 50 individuals live on our campus and many work at various jobs within Shepherds Enterprises. We also support about 55 individuals who live independently in the community and are a part of our Catalyst Independent Living Program.
In 2008, Shepherds Ministries returned to its educational roots with the establishment of Shepherds College, a 3 year post-secondary education program for young adults with intellectual disabilities. Currently, we have 80 students enrolled.