Most mornings when you phone the South-Central Nebraska office of Mosaic (formerly Bethphage), you will hear the friendly voice of Mary Lou Ernst on the other end of the line.
What you won't realize, as Ernst forwards your call to the appropriate staff member at Mosaic, is that you just witnessed one little piece in a woman's life that her co-workers and friends would say is nothing short of exceptional.
It wasn't long ago when Ernst, who attends Bethel Lutheran Church, Holdrege, Neb., needed round-the-clock support from Mosaic, which works with people who have developmental disabilities. Ernst, who lived on the campus in Axtell, Neb., recalled that after several years there, "I thought it was time for me to go off and find a job and an apartment on my own. And that is what I did."
Ernst worked in the cafeteria of a center in Holdrege that assisted disabled children. Eventually the children were mainstreamed to the general school system, and she was left looking for work again. Ernst then returned to Mosaic as a clerical assistant, but she still lives in her own apartment.
"And then one day I got a call from David Jacox (president and CEO of Mosaic)," Ernst said. "He said, 'Mary Lou, there is an opening on the board of directors. How would you like to be on it?' I have been on the board for more than a year and my term is for four years.
"Life hasn't been easy for me. But if wasn't for the people at Mosaic, especially my good friend David, I don't know where I would be. Everyone here is wonderful to me."
Jacox said Ernst is "truly a friend to me. And she is a great example of our mission statement, which is to be in partnership with people who have disabilities. Mosaic provides support and advocates that all may realize God's gift of wholeness of life."
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers