By Catherine Waldon, Co-Founder/Program Director

Independence Through GRACE is a faith-based enrichment program for adults with developmental disabilities located in the heart of downtown Bakersfield. GRACE is known for providing a safe environment that offers kindness and love to each of the participants who attend the program.

The mission of GRACE is Gaining Respect, Access, Connections, and Experience for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities through Christ-centered programs to encourage and support them in reaching their full potential.

The “GRACE space” is a fun and enriching drop-in center with exciting opportunities for learning and growth each day. Participants enjoy ballroom dance, art and music enrichment, meal planning and preparation, Bible study, as well as volunteering weekly in the community.

Art class at Independence Through GRACE. (Photo Courtesy: Catherine Waldon)

GRACE relies on the generosity of our community to support its efforts in providing a place where participants are valued, accepted, and respected. Our staff works to discover each person’s strengths, with the ultimate goal of assisting our participants in reaching their maximum potential while they gain confidence in their abilities.

Give Big Kern enables GRACE to not only reach potential donors for much-needed funds but to also spread the good news of GRACE to our community. We endeavor to reach adults with special needs to make them aware of our program.

The participants at GRACE enjoy being active and love when volunteers come to our program to share their talents and knowledge. We encourage volunteers to download an application from our website ( and spend time with these amazing individuals.

COVID 19 has impacted everyone in our country, and sadly GRACE had to temporarily shut its doors. However, our work continues! Even though we can’t be together at the GRACE space, we are connecting with our participants through technology – virtual Bible Study, FaceTime, Facebook, and phone calls. We’re adjusting but praying to return soon!