After years of teaching special education and serving as a JOBS coordinator, which involved a “school to work” transition classroom for young adults with special needs, Brenda Hauk felt led to open a Christian-based job training center for adults who live with developmental disabilities. She visited several facilities, established relationships with mentors, and in 1999, BrightStone opened with 4 students, a volunteer staff of two, and donated space in a local church. Today, over 15 years later, BrightStone currently serves 35 adults, maintains a waiting list and has attracted families from a 5-county area. BrightStone now has a 9,000+ square foot building that houses three enterprise-focused job training centers, a learning lab, offers enrichment and therapeutic programs such as music and physical wellness, produces high quality in-demand products that are sold, employs a caring and loving staff, and owns two buses with handicap accessibility that provide morning and afternoon transportation for students and shuttles them to community events and programs. In honor of Hauk’s commitment to those with developmental disabilities and because March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, Brenda Hauk is being honored as a Darrell Waltrip Automotive Hometown Hero.
“We hear talk frequently about someone having their calling or a mission, and living their life for a special cause”, said Kevin Gabhart, BrightStone Board Member. “As I witness the effort, passion and diligence of the work Brenda Hauk does for BrightStone and the community there, I am reminded of John 15:13 and Jesus’ words ‘no one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.’ Those that know her and witness her efforts can attest to the level of love she has for these friends. She gives her all and asks nothing in return.” As a part of her award a $500 donation to BrightStone will be made by the Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group.
“Brenda Hauk is a leader with great vision that is driven by real passion that lives within her to create a full and honorable life for special needs adults in this region”, said BrightStone board member Bob Speck. “In the years I have known her I have not once observed her waiver from or compromise that vision. How blest we are to know her and to have opportunity ourselves to grow from her Godly influence.”
Hauk’s next goal? To provide the much needed critical residential component that these families so desperately need. A community campus is envisioned that would include job training centers, therapeutic services, greater opportunities for recreation and socialization, and more. The campus would allow this community of adults to live, work, play and worship in an environment conducive to their needs with a sense of supervised independence and self-esteem, within a wholesome living environment.
“I am honored to accept this Hometown Hero Award on behalf of all the heroes I get to be with everyday… that is, the adults at BrightStone who brighten our world as they bring so much love, light, and pure joy into our world! They give their all to everything they do, and I am blessed to be a part of BrightStone and giving them the opportunity to become their highest potential as productive and independent citizens”, said Hauk. “I am honored to be a recipient of this award and to be part of a community who recognizes the value of each individual without regard to varying abilities. It is then that we can work together to help those who cannot help themselves, and in so helping, we become enlightened to the joy of life ourselves and become closer to who we were created to be. A “hero” is defined as a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for brave deeds and noble qualities. I can think of no greater hero that the adult learners at BrightStone. Thank you for valuing their lives through this award.”