Monthly Archives: March 2016

Autism Moms Interview #1 Karen Jackson

On the Eve of World Autism Day and the start of April, Autism Awareness Month, I hope this is the beginning of a meaningful series of interviews with autism moms. So many woman are doing wonderful, courageous and creative things and I hope to highlight some of that this month through our FIN Blog.
To start the ball rolling, so to speak, I begin by interviewing myself. A bit unorthodox, yes, but it was a very interesting exercise and I am always glad to share about what it is like to be an autism mom.
If you have not been contacted yet and would like to contribute, please email Karen at
Interview: Karen F. Jackson
Position/Title: Executive Director of Faith Inclusion Network of Hampton Roads and Author of Loving Samantha
Question: How old was your child when they were diagnosed with autism? Can you share how you felt when you received that diagnosis?
Karen: Samantha …

Welcoming the Visitor

As I walked out of St. John Chrysostom, a Catholic Church in the Philadelphia area, I was filled with the warmth of acceptance and belonging. How does that happen after one visit to a church? Let me explain…
Since my position leading Faith Inclusion Network began, I have learned about and experienced everything from the most inclusive of faith communities to the most unwelcoming and exclusive. I am sensitive to the efforts faith communities make to include people like my daughter who have disabilities and always grateful when someone, either from my home church or in another place of worship, welcomes us.
This past Sunday, my family and I attended Easter Sunday Mass at St. John Chrysostom Catholic Church in Wallingford, PA. we were visiting our oldest at Swarthmore College and wanted to attend Mass as a family for Easter. Easy enough, right?

Well, maybe not. Because being in a new, crowded place …

Accept. Include. Celebrate.

This story is written in honor of all my friends who have Down syndrome.
Happy World Down Syndrome Day!-K. Jackson
I walked into the gathering slowly, tired from a long Monday that included teaching, driving, and frustrating phone calls to my bank. I was spent and ready to just pick up my daughter and get home to start the evening routine. But something happened in the moment I walked in the door…something simple yet profound.
I was greeted, not just warmly, but enthusiastically by one of my friends at The Chosen Ministry, a social ministry for persons with disabilities. No, not by my daughter-she rarely gets excited like this-but by a friend who just sees me a few times a month. As I made my way into the building my friend, who has Down syndrome, by the way, blessed me with a huge smile, a hug, and made me feel welcomed. She …

My Favorite Story – Gifts of the Heart Celebration-2016

I could share a lot about the fun, challenges and excitement of preparing for this year’s FIN Gifts of the Heart Celebration.  After all, we had more participants than ever, we raised more funds than ever and we reached many new partners in the community, sharing our mission of better inclusion for all in our Hampton Roads faith communities.  We had one of the most talented speakers I know, Emily Colson, presenting, and the inspiring performances of students from around our community, including the NPR Strolling Strings, a Djembe drumming group, the ADC Dancers from Todd Rosenlieb’s studio, and a memorable debut performance of an original song, “Let’s Share a Journey” sung by Pamela Tanner, Dianna Swenson and her Vocal Inclusion Studio. But there is one story that needs to be told that really points to the mission and meaning of Faith Inclusion Network like no other.

A few weeks before …