Valentine Cheer 2013!
TVC is a new service model that seeks to enrich the lives of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities empowering them to become agents for good and inspiration.
Therefore, the focus of Trinity Volunteer Corps’ second annual Valentine Cheer project (VC13) was to create prepared environments where our Trinity Volunteers could take the lead on what most of them understood as simply “helping sick children and their families” bringing a great sense of pride to participants.
It was a huge success at the five Chicago and Northwest Indiana Ronald McDonald Houses. Making homemade heart cookies to fill the houses with an inviting aroma, creating unique & festive note card bundles for the family welcome bags, setting up and maintaining “Grandma Mary’s Valentine Making Station”, and cooking hearty dinners and a bodacious brunch — all of this nurtured the more than 100 families who reside at area Ronald McDonald Houses (RMH) while their children are receiving care at nearby hospitals.
Our six long-term Trinity Volunteers not only made great contributions at the actual Ronald McDonald Houses, they also helped lead events at organizations with similar goals where we created Valentine decorations, made Valentine note cards for the welcome bags and generally enjoyed decorating and eating heart cookies while building bridges with the following organizations:
1. Opportunity Knocks – 10 OK participants enjoyed an arc of programming to help create a more complete understanding of the mission of RMH in general and of Valentine Cheer at RMH in particular experiencing three visits to the Loyola RMH: 1)a house tour and overview from the director, 2)a second afternoon of cookie making, welcome bag card bundling and Valentine Station Set-Up , and 3)a dinner preparation and serving where they sat down with resident families to share the meal and comforting conversation. There was also a mobile Valentine Making Station at the OK facility so that all their participants could have some level of involvement in VC13 as the house has a 10 volunteer limit in their kitchen.
2. Connection of Friends – 12 COF participants made heart cookies that were later used at RMH; their Program Leader took the opportunity to explain what Ronald McDonald House “is” and that parents and children would be attending a party together as a family where they would enjoy the cookies that they baked. There was a sense of pride shared by COF participants that they were able to contribute towards such an event.
3. The Adult Down Syndrome Center – 5 patients enjoyed a card making party complete with do-it-yourself cookie decorating and cookie eating; they were proud to make a contribution to the RMH family welcome bags. Trinity Volunteers Derek Withers and Walter Lazard did a terrific job of hosting this event.
4. Misericordia – 15 participants enjoyed a card making party complete with do-it-yourself cookie decorating and cookie eating; they were proud to make a contribution to the RMH family welcome bags. Trinity Volunteer Walter Lazard took the lead on hosting this event.
5. Chicago Public Schools, Joseph E. Gary School, rm 100 — 12 students enjoyed a card making party complete with do-it-yourself cookie decorating and cookie eating; this pilot school based project was made possible by TVC friend Leslie Dummitt who has been a special education teacher at CPS for over 30 years. He believes there is room for expansion and that having adults with IDD serve as classroom helpers is inspiring to his students.
6. Riverside Public Library – about 30 library patrons (some from the local high school’s transition program for students with IDD) enjoyed making note cards for the RMH family welcome bags. There was a mobile VC13 Valentine Making Station at the library for about 2 weeks and it was supported by Trinity Volunteer Derek Withers.
Art supplies for our Valentine Making Stations and grocery store gift cards for our various cooking activities were provided through the Old St. Patrick’s Church Giving Tree project! Thanks for your continued support and enthusiasm OSP!
All the Ronald McDonald House Managers expressed gratitude for the Valentine Cheer project which helped bring smiles to families that are tired, stressed and worried about their little ones. They often related stories of how the Valentine Station helped calm and nurture adult guests often “reminding them of their childhood days.” And, they told about how “ kids really enjoyed the Valentine table…..yesterday, a little girl made one on her way home for her grandma & grandpa….it was so cute!” Then, “one of the kids was thrilled to make Valentines for her class. When she got out of the hospital, it gave her something to do, plus her mother was delighted that they didn’t have to worry about getting Valentines when they returned to Colorado.”