During this Year of Faith, the words of the Letter of St. James come frequently to mind; “Show me a faith without good works and I will show you a faith that is dead . . .” Not so here at St. Mary’s Home in Chicago; it is plain to see that the Faith is living and active . . . full of good works.
As the Residents celebrated the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – aka Prince William and Catherine Middleton – a few years ago, likewise they were looking forward to celebrating the birth of the new royal baby. The idea of combining an authentic English tea and a good old fashioned American baby shower came to mind. For some time, benefactors had expressed the desire to do something special for the Residents, and were delighted with the thought of an English tea.
At a meeting of the Resident Council, the idea of benefiting The Women’s Center with the baby shower was discussed. The local center whose mission is “saving babies, one woman at a time” assists women during their pregnancy and through the entire first year of life. This certainly spoke to the hearts of the Residents and they wanted to do their part by purchasing small gifts for the babies and raising additional funds selling donuts they made at an ice cream social. This fundraiser enabled Residents to purchase a car seat, a must-have item as the law states a newborn cannot leave the hospital without one.
A poster placed near the front door gave notice of the baby shower and authentic English tea, and included an explanation of the Residents project to assist The Women’s Center. Baskets were placed in the hope that visitors and others might contribute to the cause. Let’s just say that many baskets were needed.
Immediately, our staff started to fill the baskets with diapers, items of clothing and baby care products. Visitors and family members caught on to the idea and were delighted to provided numerous outfits for infants through one year old – boys and girls; each outfit cuter than the other. This display became a real focal point for several days.
The Residents too left little gifts. One petite Resident came down the hall one evening and asked the receptionist if she could put something in the basket. She placed a box of cotton swabs – Q Tips – in the basket and wrote on the back in her own hand, “from Clarita”. The brother of our activity director donated small rag dolls he manufactures. These dolls are designed for working mothers who must leave their children in day care. The mother sleeps with the doll for a few days, and her scent on the doll provides comfort to the baby in her absence. A lady who was told about the project by a staff member purchased several beautiful outfits saying that she could never have children of her own and wanted to give to children who needed her help. There were so many touching stories like this. Faith and good works definitely go together!
As the big day drew near, the Residents made some frilly hats and picked out their ‘jewels’ for the event. Jolly Posh, a local establishment that offers English tea parties, was selected to take us across the pond for the day with their Darjeeling tea, cucumber sandwiches and tea cakes. Teapots were collected and the tables set.The only thing left was to boil the water
for the tea!
The Women’s Center sent two representatives for the event, appropriately attired in lovely hats. Upon seeing the absolute ‘load’ of gifts that had been collected for the babies, they were moved to tears. Just that morning the center had run out of a certain size diaper, and low and behold there was an entire case waiting for them in our lobby. At the end of the day, they loaded their jeep with all of the gifts, and needed two trips to get all the items back to the center.
Everyone who attended or helped with the tea – Residents, staff, guests and volunteers – remarked how delicious everything tasted. Our Resident ladies were all smiles which made the effort in the planning of the day so worthwhile. A Little Sister remarked how the continuum of life was represented and that this was a snapshot of what “Respect Life” truly is. We discussed the idea of continuing our relationship with the center, perhaps starting a “visit grandma” program that would bring the young women and their babies to the home to visit Residents. This would expose the young people to the wisdom of the elderly and in turn bring our Residents the joy of holding a baby and recalling these happy times in their own lives.
This authentic English tea and royal baby shower – an event to remember – helped our Residents and all those who were moved to become involved, to realize how precious our Faith is by seeing the ‘good works’ it inspires.
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