Reedville woman is source of joy, inspiration to congregation
Laura Clowers (left) and Afton United Methodist’s Alf Braxton share a laugh together as they relate the story of her life growing up with spina bifida and the ways in which she has helped her church.
Laura Clowers was born with spina bifida — a developmental disorder that resulted in her having an open spine and left her with paralysis from the waist-down. She is wheelchair-bound and has lost both of her feet to infection.
But she doesn’t let any of it stop her from getting what she wants out of life.
“I don’t want people to feel sorry for me,” said Clowers. “If I want to do it bad enough, I’ll find a way to do it.”
And it is Clowers’ perseverance and willingness to help others that has inspired her fellow congregation at Afton United Methodist Church.
Clowers became a member of Afton UMC on Oct. 13 and said it was “like a whole new family.”
“There, I can do things and I know everybody,” said Clowers. “It’s a lot of fun….I’ll do anything to help in any way I can and I know that if I need something, they’re going to be right here, too.”
Alf Braxton, Lay and Worship Leader at Afton UMC, said it has been a wonderful journey in welcoming her into the congregation.
“Laura listens, and if she hears something that intrigues her, that she thinks she might be able to help with, she doesn’t wait for you to ask. She’ll let you know that she wants to help.”
Right before Christmas, Clowers had volunteered to assist the church with the Avery Software program, which surprised Braxton “That was the beginning of really getting to know Laura and her ability to do a lot of different things like graphics,” said Braxton.
Clowers also creates birthday and anniversary cards for the congregation.
“Everybody just really loves her cards because she personalizes them,” said Braxton. “It’s your own personal card with a personal touch.”
Clowers has participated with her church through working at spaghetti dinners and delivering a prayer at a recent Call to Worship. During the interview, she showcased her comical spirit that kept Braxton and fellow members Carol Hammer and Jan Bean in constant laughter.
Aside from the talents she utilizes to help her church, Laura has also created glass mosaic tiles. And hung on the walls in one room are colorful puzzles ranging from lush farms to underwater sea creatures that Laura herself put together.
When asked what it was like to see that Laura never gave up, her mother, Edie said “it was always like that from the time since she was born.”
Edie noted that Laura’s father, Bob Clowers, played a very big part in her life from building her a special bike on which she could sit and use her feet as at the age of 1 to designing her a small house for in Colonial Beach where the counter tops and stove were level with Laura in her wheelchair.
After Bob passed away, Laura attended his memorial service at Afton UMC, and it was there that she came to like the church and its people.
Edie was grateful to the people at Afton UMC, saying that they “have played such an important part in her life in the last year and it has really been fantastic, getting her to church and a part of church. That has helped her a lot since her father passed way.”
“She has added a lot to our lives, too,” Bean said. “She is so much fun to be around.”
Hammer called Laura “a chip off the old block” because both Laura and her mother were always quick to make her smile.