Young People Witness Heart of Mercy 

Young People Witness Heart of Mercy 

Giving back to others has long been a critical part of our young people’s experience and development. Often, it is through partnerships with other Chicago-area charities that we are able to offer our kids opportunities to practice empathy and enhance their perspectives on the world around them. 

And one such partnership is particularly close to our hearts. Recently, a group of roughly 15 of our boys and girls traveled to Misericordia Heart of Mercy in the city’s West Ridge neighborhood for a morning of arts and crafts, basketball, and more. 

Misericordia, whose mission is to provide a community of care that maximizes potential for persons with mild to profound developmental disabilities, many of whom are also physically challenged, is a sister organization to Mercy Home for Boys & Girls. Both organizations are part of the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago. Fr. Scott has been friends with several of the organization’s leaders for decades, including its President and Executive Director Father Jack Clair and Misericordia Foundation Chairman Sr. Rosemary Connelly, RSM. Father Clair and Fr. Scott were classmates at Mundelein Seminary. They were ordained together in 1982. Sister Rosemary Connelly is viewed by many as a modern-day living saint, not just in locally, but nationally. 

“I love the mission of Misericordia!” Fr. Scott said. “Misericordia has such a well-deserved reputation for the critically important work it does here in the city of Chicago. That’s why I was happy to see our young people getting so directly involved.” 

In addition to organizational leadership, the two communities overlap in many other ways. 

“I think there’s a lot of connection between donors who support Mercy’s mission and Misericordia,” Tom Gilardi, a Philanthropic Advisor and coworker at Mercy Home for more than 32 years, said. “It’s a natural partner for us to work with them, learn about their mission, and share that mission with the kids and coworkers here at Mercy Home.” 

Our young people prepared for the visit in November, near the end of Disability Awareness Month. Both campuses watched a video about the organization and held trivia nights during dinner about disability awareness, after which they enjoyed desserts from Misericordia’s Hearts & Flour Bakery. Located on Misericordia’s North Side campus, the bakery provides job experience for residents and helps raise funds and awareness for the mission. An extension of the bakery that features a drive through and serves coffee opened nearby in 2022. 

Tamiko Lucas, a youth care worker in Walgreen Home, said that about five girls from her program visited Misericordia. At first, the girls were nervous and timid, but by the end of the day, they were laughing and eager for more opportunities to engage with people at the organization. 

“The experience was very humbling and impactful for the youth because they were able to treat people with respect, dignity, and kindness,” Lucas said. “They saw these people who have different (disabilities) and they still have all of these skills that they are able to use.” 

While the people living at Misericordia were older than those who live at Mercy Home, Lucas said that our girls were incredibly engaged, shared laughs with residents, and made the most of the opportunity to connect with others who may be facing different kinds of challenges in life.  

Misericordia has such a well-deserved reputation for the critically important work it does here in the city of Chicago. That’s why I was happy to see our young people getting so directly involved.

– Fr. Scott Donahue

“The whole idea is that our kids come to Mercy and have a lot of challenge, but no one ever has so much challenge that they can’t serve others,” Gilardi said. “I think that’s been a beautiful thread through the programming since we started.” 

Before the visit, Lucas said that they had a conversation with our kids about what the experience might entail and simply stressed that they extend patience and grace. 

“I think that they related to [Misericordia’s residents],” Lucas said. “That’s why it was so humbling. They saw them struggling in a different way than I’m struggling, but we both have things that we’re working on and trying to grasp.” 

Like Mercy Home, each Misericordia resident has their own unique story. Lucas said that during their February trip they hung out with residents with different communication and intellectual levels. But with patience and compassion, people from the two organizations shared a beautiful morning together. 

“They loved it,” Lucas said. “Our therapists are setting up more community service opportunities like that for them to go out and work with those individuals.” 

“I’m grateful to Misericordia for opening its doors to our young people and my coworkers, Fr. Scott said. “And I look forward to more opportunities to engage and interact with our good friends there. 

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