For as long as I can remember, my family has worked with Misericordia in Chicago. The way I always describe Misericordia to someone who is learning about it for the first time is that it’s almost a college-style campus for people with developmental disabilities. The 600 children and adults who live on this 31-acre campus participate in a wide range of activities that gives the residents profound purpose. They partake in art therapy and hold different jobs within the community. Whether they deliver mail or help package baked goods to be sold at farmers markets, the residents enjoy their days at Misericordia. My cousin has lived there for over fifteen years and I can personally attest to the enjoyment that the residents experience on a daily basis.
When SIM Partners was selecting their next Give Back event, Misericordia came to mind immediately. Once it was scheduled, we all met at the campus on the north side of Chicago early in the morning for orientation. We were briefed on the daily lives of the residents, what our jobs would be, and how to interact with the residents as well as the history of Misericordia. Before Misericordia took over the property in late 1960s, it was an orphanage. When Misericordia took it over, they made it a place where people of different abilities could all come together. Everyone has a gift to give; some people are just more unique than others. There are those people that take more time to learn, but once they learn the skill set they make it their own.
After orientation, we split up to go to different areas that needed attention, which is different than past give backs we’ve done. Some of us went to the bakery, some went to the gardens, and others went to the art rooms. There is even an area for the new coffee program. All of us were working while interacting with the residents in their daily lives.
My volunteer assignment was at the bakery. Misericordia has it’s own bakery where they bake a variety of breads and sweet treats that they sell on campus and at local farmers markets. I assisted with slicing and packaging of bread and their heart-shaped brownies. With the help of a few different residents we completed all of our tasks in a timely fashion. While working with them I asked every resident, ‘what do you love most about Misericordia?’ Every resident’s answer was the same: everything. This may seem like a simple way to answer the question, but they truly mean it. The residents genuinely love their lives at Misericordia.
After our volunteer time was completed, we visited the restaurant on campus, Greenhouse Inn, for a wonderful lunch. Some of the residents actually work there. Overall we had had an amazing time giving back to the community at Misericordia. I’m so happy to share such a huge part of my life with SIM Partners and look forward to future give backs at Misericordia.