Katy Christian Ministries (KCM) and Katy Wolf Pack Special Olympics team leaders Don Wolf and Sandi Dancel have been selected as Katy Area Hometown Heroes to be recognized by The Arc of Katy at its April 3 annual gala at the Omni Houston Hotel at Westside.
The Arc of Katy launched the Katy Area Hometown Heroes program in 2018 to demonstrate the organization’s pride in the community and to recognize those who make it a great place to live for its members, program participants and their families. Both KCM and Katy Wolf Pack’s Wolf and Dancel were selected by a group of Katy area citizens from among nominations submitted to The Arc of Katy.
KCM will be honored as the Hometown Hero for A Great Place to Live for the support it provides to 12,700 local people annually through 20 programs that make up the organization’s four core service streams: social services, food pantry, crisis center and resale store.
“Many people have the misconception that Katy does not have need for services like those offered by KCM,” said KCM executive director Deysi Crespo. “However, the need is here and prevalent, and there is no better way to serve than to help those in our own back yard who may be going through various hardships.”
Beginning in 1984, the non-profit KCM has grown and adjusted to meet the needs of the area through a variety of programs such as crisis hotline, counseling, food fairs, school supplies, job readiness, health benefits and many more.
“As a Christ-centered ministry that loves and meets people right where they are, our programs are a beacon of hope for those in darkness,” said Crespo of the organization that utilizes 91 cents out of every dollar to directly support its programs. “As we engage with our families, it is our goal to spread God’s love though our actions, by listening, comforting, making connections and providing tangible resources to meet various needs.”
Meeting the needs of others over the course of their lives also is the reason Don Wolf and Sandi Dancel were selected as the Katy Area Hometown Heroes for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD). Wolf and Dancel both taught special education. Both worked different jobs that benefit and support individuals with I/DD. But perhaps most impressive is the fact that both have led the Katy Wolf Pack Special Olympics program for 21 years. Over that time, the Katy Wolf Pack has become the state’s largest Special Olympics team with around 250 athletes.
“My favorite thing about working with the individuals with I/DD is being able to put a smile on their faces,” said Wolf, who, on behalf of Katy Wolf Pack, also served as a torch bearer for the 2002 Olympic Torch Relay Team. “I would encourage others to treat those with I/DD like they would treat anyone else because I prefer to see differing abilities instead of disabilities.” Dancel concurred, “You learn not to put limitations because our participants constantly surprise you with what they accomplish.”
Both Wolf and Dancel became interested in individuals with I/DD when they became acquainted with children with I/DD while in school. Wolf was a senior in high school when he worked with a young girl with Down syndrome. “That child inspired me to get my college degree in Special Education,” he said.
Dancel first met children with specials needs when two of her elementary friends had sisters with I/DD. Those interactions planted a seed in her that led to a life of mostly working with those with I/DD.
“How could you not love working with people with I/DD?” she said. “Every day is an adventure that is filled with honesty, love, laughter and learning.”
Their impact on the Katy community continues when both KCM and Wolf and Dancel are recognized at The Arc of Katy’s 2020 Gala Celebrating Hometown Heroes on April 3 at the Omni Houston Hotel at Westside. For more information about The Arc of Katy 2020 Gala and opportunities for sponsoring, underwriting, donating auction items or attending, please visit the event website here.
Funds generated from the gala will support ongoing delivery of high quality, safe, affordable programs that provide skills development, social enrichment and community service activities for adults and teens with I/DD. As the Katy Area community and special needs programs in area schools grow, additional funding is needed to expand services and resources for more youth and adults with I/DD and their families.