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December 23, 2013

Ministry says take a moment and just... ‘Breathe’

Families benefit from a dream come true for local woman

TIFTON —

When it comes to turning what seems to be a negative into a positive, no one does it better than Nettie Hatcher.

Hatcher's daughter, who is now 18, has special needs. When her daughter was just four years old, Hatcher and her husband took her to church, where they were told their child could go into the nursery. This was a relief for Hatcher, who said her daughter's epilepsy required that she have one-on-one attention. 

"She was barely walking at the time," Hatcher said of her daughter. "For the first three weeks, we put her in the nursery and it was wonderful. The fourth week, there were signs up and down the hall that said the nursery is for ages two and under. We thought that didn't apply to us because she had special needs."

But Hatcher said the children's minister told them their daughter could no longer come into the nursery, because she was too old to be in there. He directed them to a room down the hall where a television was waiting. 

"He said, 'you can sit in there with her and watch the service on TV,' " she recalled. "My heart was broken. That experience really showed me how our world doesn't really understand families with children who have special needs. It wasn't that he was being mean. It was just that these are the rules and you have to follow them. Really, sometimes, you have to make adjustments to the rules. That experience stuck with me and embedded in me the need to do something. I felt like, if I don't do it, no one else will."

It was from this that Hatcher's ministry, Breathe, was born. Hatcher went to her pastor at Heritage Church in Moultrie and shared with him her desire that families with special needs children would be ministered to, and that she wanted to do something to help them. 

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