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The Baltimore Sun

Bel Air restaurant helps local ministry for special needs young adults

It's not news when people and businesses are welcoming and giving at Christmas. Mike Barone and the staff at Fortunato Brothers, at 1301 Churchville Road in Bel Air, however, have been making it Christmas all year long for a group of Harford County individuals with unique needs.

Three times a year, this pleasant family eatery hosts holiday parties for a loud, laughing, hugging group called Beyond Capernaum.

Beyond Capernaum is a ministry run by the high school youth group at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church at 1643 E. Churchville Road in Bel Air. Youth Director Terri Cooney, the mother of several special needs adults, founded the group in response to great need in the community.

The first and third Tuesdays of every month, 20 to 30 smiling young adults come together at the Youth Outreach Center for pizza, a Bible lesson and an outreach project.

"The pizza is always from Fortunato, made fresh with love," Cooney said. "Mike and his staff work hard to accommodate our group in every way."

These young adults, often labeled "handicapped," have much to offer. They serve veterans by making cards and goodie bags, those in jail by making place mats expressing love and care, and those in shelters by making treat bags given with dinner. They also bring change and collect tabs from cans to support the AIDS orphans in the Children of Zion Village, founded and operated by Mt. Zion.

For more information about Beyond Capernaum, the youth ministry, or Children of Zion Village, call the church office at 410-836-7444.

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