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Hearing impaired getting attention by Baptist ministry

STACEY PLAISANCE / L’Observateur / November 9, 1998

LAPLACE – First Baptist Church in LaPlace is making strides to break down the communication barriers among the hearing impaired and deaf in the community.

The church has begun a new ministry for the hearing impaired and deaf in the River Parishes area by utilizing sign language interpreters during Sunday morning services. Interpreters Cathy Hubbard and Vanessa Holdenare from the New Orleans area and also do interpretation work in the public school system.

“This all began about a year ago when a new member of our congregation came in who was deaf, and since then we’ve been trying to help him and others in the community like him know that we care,” said Jim Duvall, the church’s minister of music.

Darren Huete is one of approximately 25 deaf residents in the LaPlace area, and Duvall said Huete has gone from student to teacher since his entrance into the congregation just one year ago.

Huete is the instructor of the beginners sign language class which is being offered to community members through the church. The next beginnersclass will begin Jan. 12, 1999, and cost is $15 to participate and $13 forthe instruction book.

The intermediate class is being taught by Hubbard and will be held Sunday mornings beginning Jan. 10, 1999. Cost is $15 to participate and $25 forthe instruction book. An advanced class will be conducted by Holden.”It can be a lonely world, and it’s been inspiring to get in touch with another human soul who can’t hear or read lips well,” Duvall said.. “Wewant to let the community know that there are hearing people who care.”For the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, First Baptist Church is hosting a variety of functions geared toward the hearing impaired, deaf and sign language interpreters. A Thanksgiving dinner will be heldSaturday, Nov. 21, and those interested in attending should reserve a seatby Nov. 17, 1998. Members of the youth group’s Midnight Cry will performat the banquet. Midnight Cry is composed of drama, theatre and musicproductions.

In addition, interpreters will be present at the matinee performance on Sunday, Dec. 13, of the church’s musical/theatre production of “TheChristmas Post” at the St. John Theatre.”I’ve seen music come alive for some people who can’t hear, and I feel inspired to take what I can hear and give it to them in whatever way I can,” Duvall said.

Duvall said that he hopes to one day have members of the congregation and even himself serve as interpreters at Sunday services.

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