MERCYWORLDWIDE serves many people in many ways. Disaster response, feeding the homeless, weekly food distribution…the list goes on. Showing compassion to hurting, hungry, homeless people can be a simultaneously joyous and sobering task. However, sometimes our service really is, “all fun and games.”
In the Los Angeles County area, California, there are several ongoing projects. For one of these projects, a group of about 15 Mercy volunteers visit a group home for 18 people with developmental disabilities on a monthly basis. The “third Thursday of the month” has become a time of laughter, smiles and friendship for the Mercy volunteers, as well as the residents and staff.
For the month of February, Mercy volunteers arrived with large boxes of Valentine chocolates for each resident, as well as a Valentine themed mug brimming with chocolates for each staff member. The volunteers and residents then dispersed to different sections of the house, to engage in more individualized activities with smaller groups of residents.
The living room was roaring with laughter as a lively game of charades took place and some unforgettable poses were struck.
The dining room hosted a quieter group, diligently selecting and stringing beautifully colored beads, creating necklaces and bracelets. Others chose to work with colored pencils and selected intricate pictures from an adult coloring books and beautiful creations were born!
At the other side of the house, reserved for the elderly residents, very lively games of bingo and poker took place, as well as reflective conversation about days gone by and precious family memories. After an incredible “beginners luck” winning streak at poker, Jerome, one of the residents, brought out old photographs of his parents, now passed away, sharing with the group his fond memories and admiration for them. At the end of such bonding conversation, Jerome was visibly encouraged and told a MERCYWORLDWIDE volunteer, “Thank you. I love you and God loves you.”
The heartfelt sentiment was returned by the Mercy volunteers as goodbye hugs and well wishes were given “until next month.”
Yes, it’s all fun and games…and so much more.