Presbyterian church to offer sign language classesPublished 3:59pm Thursday, March 4, 2010
By JESSICA SIEFF
Presbyterian Church of Edwardsburg members are coming together, bringing with them an opportunity for the community to communicate with each other.
Mother and son duo Becky and Mike Fisette will teach basic sign language at the church. Classes are free and open to the public.
Patty Patzer, a member of the Presbyterian Church is helping coordinate the classes and said the idea for them came about after taking the church’s youth group on a mission trip to Benton Harbor where the group took part in building a Habitat for Humanity house.
There, the group and Patzer met up with Mike Fisette, a young man who is deaf. The soon to be 18-year-old is at the Michigan School for the Deaf in Flint, his mother said.
“I try not to let it hold him back,” Becky Fisette said.
After those who were on the mission trip learned a little about sign language in order to communicate with Mike, the idea began to grown, Patzer said.
“Our church has been trying to find ways to reach out to the community and let them know more about us as a church and also bring them services that would be useful to them,” she said. “We were just talking about it and thought this might be a good service to the community.”
Already among the church’s members, Patzer said there has been noticeable interest in the classes.
“Within our own church we’ve noticed an interest in trying to do this,” Patzer said. “We thought if the interest is there, there might be an interest in the community as well.”
Fisette said she’s heard the language, used to communicate with the deaf, has been used in other areas as well.
“I know it’s becoming more and more common for people when they have a 1-year-old or whatever to start teaching them sign language,” she said.
The classes will begin on Sunday, March 14 at 9 a.m.
“I guess I consider it important enough for people to communicate with everybody,” Patzer said. “Even if you just know the alphabet and a few simple signs, you can make a person feel comfortable.”