Here at Mercy Home, we believe that good mentors are critical to helping our boys and girls heal from past trauma to grow into inspiring adults. And some of the best mentors here at our Home are former veterans who have dedicated their lives to helping our young people. Youth care worker Rob Schuler is one such person.
“The military has prepared me very well for [life at Mercy Home],” said Rob, a former Marine. “The Marine Corps. culture is one of enduring hardship and overcoming adversity. And those character traits are, coincidentally, exactly what’s needed to work in a place like Mercy.” The most important lesson he learned? “You have to see the bigger picture and understand that your efforts have a purpose that’s bigger than yourself.”
Rob strives to share these values with our young people every day. That’s why he organized a service project for our young men with a veteran’s organization, The Mission Continues, to aid a South Chicago neighborhood community.
“You have to see the bigger picture and understand that your efforts have a purpose that’s bigger than yourself.”
This opportunity was made possible due to Rob’s own volunteer work with The Mission Continues. A non-profit organization that aids veterans adjusting to civilian life through community impact, The Mission Continues operates throughout the country and has three service platoons, or groups, that serve communities throughout Chicago. Rob volunteers his time as a Platoon Leader of the organization’s second Chicago service platoon.
Our young men and co-workers joined all three platoons, as well as a number of community volunteers, when they traveled to the South Side to help spruce up the aging facilities of the Latino Resource Institute. This Institute is a long-time community service agency that works to meet the needs of members of low-income Hispanic neighborhoods, providing counseling, parenting classes, food pantry storage, case management services, and medical services for individuals struggling with HIV/AIDS.
Once the philanthropic coalition joined together in South Chicago, they set about their volunteer operation by applying fresh coats of paint, removing garbage, and conducting general beautification work. Our youth had a great time working with the veterans and meeting members of the community, and also enjoyed the opportunity to visit a lesser known part of Chicago.
Rob was immediately able to see the impact the experience had on our youth. “One of the amazing things I noticed while the youth were out there participating is their ability to emulate positive role models,” he said. “As the youth saw the veterans getting to work, focusing, getting involved, it really translated very well to the youth being able to follow suit.”
Our young people were able to do more than just learn from great role models, however. “The amazing thing that I think happened,” Rob continued, “was that as youth were engaged in these activities…they began to have fun. Sometimes working and giving service to other people is fun!”
For one of our boys, Malachi, the service with veterans was truly special experience. Malachi is a member of the ROTC program at his high school, and has gained newfound admiration for the men and women in the military. Being in ROTC and participating in the service project helped him to “learn and respect more about the people who fight for our country.”
It is because of friends like you that this wonderful service project, and so many more like it, are possible. Thank you for giving our young people the gift of a bright future.