Nearly 100 former residents, families, mentors, mentees, volunteers, and coworkers came together at Mercy Home’s West Loop Campus for our annual Friends First & AfterCare Picnic to enjoy music, games, and a full menu of barbeque favorites.

There were smiles all around as everyone enjoyed a variety of activities, including board games, balloon animals, a cup stacking game, an Oreo challenge, a hula hoop bubble challenge, football, soccer, musical chairs, and a balloon toss competition.

Director of AfterCare, Housing, & Community Partnerships Daniel Nelson handled grilling duty along with AfterCare Care Manager Dion Brown, cooking up brats, burgers, chicken, and hot dogs. Before lunch, Manager of AfterCare Samuel Villasenor united everyone in prayer.

Following lunch, Nelson introduced himself, then invited all the AfterCare and Friends First coworkers to join him and do the same. He then spoke about the important roles both AfterCare and Friends First play in Mercy Home’s model of care.

Nelson described how the Friends First program extends our support to young people outside of our residential programs, even reducing the need for many to ever seek placement at the Home. Regarding AfterCare, he added, “If you have been in residential, AfterCare is the back end to make sure that you still have the same support and access to resources once you leave our agency.”

Nelson also welcomed those in attendance to browse through our Anderson building to select any pieces of furniture to take home with them. The barbecue closed out with a raffle that awarded various prizes.

We want to thank everyone who came out and made this barbecue such a special day, especially our volunteers and coworkers in Friends First and AfterCare. We couldn’t have done it without you!