A beating heart is the life maintaining organ and without this organ our bodies would not be able to function or grow.
The same can be said for Dina Bienvenu, one of the leading forces behind the One Heart Ministry – a partnership for people with disabilities, their family members and caregivers. Dina is the women who has hand crafted thousands of pins, keychains, afghans and crafted baby blocks that can be seen throughout the diocese.
These items have been donated as raffle baskets at Church craft fairs, bazaars and fundraisers at numerous parishes and schools. Her tireless work ethic and passion for sharing her gifts and talents with others have made her the heart and soul of this disability’s ministry and outreach.
Although she herself has limitations and obstacles in her life, her exceptional creativity and drive to spread the disability awareness message has enabled the diocese to reach out to parishes and schools with programs, signs and symbols that remind adults and young people that we are all equal in God’s eyes.
One Heart Ministry was established three years ago as an outreach for people whose lives are touched by a disability. But very quickly the group turned into a disability awareness and advocacy group thanks to the continued efforts of Dina and her cousin Randy Bouley, administrative assistant for the Diocesan Office of Safe Environments.
What started as a support group has turned into so much more. Over the years the group has given presentations at Diocesan Catholic Schools and parishes giving a voice for people with disabilities.
After each Disability Awareness presentation, Dina hands out keychains she has designed and crafted personally, with a heart on one side and a cross on the other. Each keychain includes the tag, “Just like me – we all need a little help sometime.” Recipients are asked to put the keychain on their backpack or bag to support people with visible and invisible disabilities.
Dina hopes the keychain will serve as a conversation piece for both children and adults who see it. The programs are designed to raise awareness so that people will become more comfortable talking about the abilities and disabilities we all have, physically as well as mentally.
Not one to sit still for long, Dina’s latest undertaking is the creation of a keychain designed especially for veterans, to thank them for their service and dedication. So many of our veterans return with physical and mental disabilities from their years of service to our country.
The keychains have a flag on one side and a heart with a cross on the other side. Attached to each keychain is a tag that says, “With respect, honor, and gratitude for all who served.”
Many parishes across the Diocese distributed these on November 9-10 to commemorate Veterans Day. Those of us that work side by side with Dina as part of One Heart Ministry are continuously inspired by her passion and joy for life. Her spirit permeates everything she does and gives everyone around her a sense that they matter.
Dina motivates us all to be more and do more than we ever thought possible. She is the big heart behind One Heart Ministry in our diocese.
By Andrea D. Hoisl