A group of our youth recently visited the residents at Mary Ryder home for an afternoon of Uno, Catch Phrase and Wii bowling. Mary Ryder provides a safe home, supportive care and an enriched life to frail elderly who are no longer safe living independently but, because they have little or no money, have few Assisted Living/Residential Care options.
Our youth really enjoyed the experience. Ray, one of our youth thought it would be boring but ended up having a great time and is looking forward to visiting again next month. The residents of Mary Ryder are thrilled to know that CHMO will be back.
Elderly people in need of smiles and laughter, homeless youth in need of loving acceptance… that’s the power of relationship.
Posted by Sue Wagener | Filed under Volunteers
I came to Covenant House on that particular Monday morning in December because I knew that I had told myself throughout the year that I was going to visit and see firsthand what it was like before 2010 was over. My husband and I had been monthly contributors to Covenant House for many years and I had read the letters out of the New York Covenant House. I had always felt drawn to help these teenagers that hadn’t had the stable and loving home that my boys had had to grow up in. I have also taught in high school and couldn’t imagine how hard it had to be to live on their own at the age of my past students.
I was impressed with the friendly, caring attitude of the people I met and how much good they were doing for these teenagers. When I was talking to the personnel I started feeling a tug at my heart that said to me that I was supposed to be there that day. When Eileen, the Employment Counselor invited me to stay for her Job Skills Class that day, I knew I was supposed to stay.
Eileen’s class was much larger than usual, so I offered to run off copies needed for the extra students. And that’s how my seven day visit to Covenant House began. It seemed like I could be useful doing simple things so that Eileen’s real work of teaching job skills could progress more easily. I sat in on each of the classes and did whatever Eileen needed me to do, and was able to participate at random times when I thought it was an idea worth sharing. Sharing a little of myself and hearing a little about their lives as the week progressed helped me to connect with them. And they expressed their appreciation of my being there by their smiles, hugs and brief conversations with me. I felt welcomed and needed, so I kept coming back.
In the middle of that week I woke up with the idea that I should make Christmas stockings for the students, just like I had for my own sons and daughter-in-laws. I ran the idea by Eileen G. and a couple of others at Covenant House, and they thought it was a great idea. So the shopping for material and stocking stuffers began. When I wasn’t shopping, I was cross-stitching their names and sewing the stockings. I must admit that at times I wondered if this was a crazy idea and the kids would be wondering why in the world would anyone think they needed individualized Christmas stockings??? They weren’t little kids anymore and they could use more “practical” gifts than stockings. But I went with my original “morning inspiration” (which I personally attribute to the Holy Spirit) and continued to stitch and stuff stockings.
The last day of job skills class came and at the end of the class there was the ending comments and handing out of the certificates of completion. I brought out the wrapped box that held the eighteen stockings and asked a couple of students to open the box. I think they were really surprised and happy to receive their own stockings because there were a lot of smiles and hugs and thank you’s. They each wanted to have a picture taken with their stocking, so I am guessing they liked it. The best part of the day was our ending prayer where students expressed their thanks for their teacher and the class, and for the loving care they were receiving from the Covenant House. They felt the love and the care, and they wanted God to bless those who were giving them hope for a better future.
Panera Cares and Covenant House are teaming up for a Job Transition Internship this February. This is a totally new concept for Panera – they researched and interviewed over 20 agencies in the St. Louis area and chose CHMO as their partner. Our youth will have the ongoing opportunity to intern at the Panera Clayton Community Cafe for six to ten weeks. They’ll learn life skills and job skills designed to provide them with personal and professional growth. The ultimate goal is to place our youth in a paying job with Panera. Ron Shaich, Panera founder, sparked this idea in hopes of giving back to the community. Needless to say, it is an incredible opportunity for our youth. About 25 interested youth showed up today to learn more and meet the people they’d be working with at the Clayton location. We are thrilled to be partnering with such an inspiring organization and look forward to playing a role in their efforts to better our community.