Misericordia in Rogers Park Helps the Disabled
CHICAGO—The Misericordia Organization in Rogers Park is just one of the many nonprofits that improve the lives of the disabled in Chicago.
More than 600 children and adults live on the Misericordia campus that spans 31-acres and consists of on-camps apartments, group homes and a skilled nursing residence. The residents are individuals with developmental disabilities that hold physical challenges.
These individuals usually come to Misericordia after graduating from high school around the age of 21, though there are younger residents, as well.
Residents are offered work opportunities as well as housing. These work opportunities include an on-campus bakery, restaurant and gift shop that are run by the residents with the help of volunteers and other assistance. All of these are open to the general public. The residents are put to work, baking, packaging and assisting customers as they shop around.
In addition to work experience, Misericordia employee Jenny Frain also explained that there are endless options for residents recreationally.
“In addition to a living space that meets the needs and abilities of our residents, Misericordia provides work opportunities, therapy programs as well as rec and leisure programs including fitness, yoga, the Heartbreakers and Heartzingers (singing groups) just to name a few,” she said.
Loyola University of Chicago freshman Jeremy King volunteered at preparation for an event last September along with his basketball team mates. The experience was one that King continues to smile about even months later.
“We got to meet people that lived there, and we got to see how things were different for them,” he said. “They have to be taken care of all the time, and it makes you stop taking some things for granted when you see how not everyone has the same priveleges.”
Over 250 people volunteer at the organization weekly, in addition to other volunteers that work with Misericordia for special events on a less consistent basis.
Misericordia volunteer Zina Brancato has been involved with the organization for 20 years both as a volunteer and as a mother of a resident at the Misericrodia apartments. Her daughter, now 47, has lived there for 20 years.
Brancato first heard about the residences when her friend that also had a son living there told her about it.
“When my daughter was a child, I never thought of placing her anywhere,” Brancato said. “One day I had the opportunity of taking a tour at Misericordia and I was amazed; right then and there I knew that this would be the only place for my child.”
Since her daughter has begun her involvement, she has learned to paint as well as work in nursing. The program has taught her independence and has brought her family peace that she is in good hands when they are not present.
“I am truly blessed and so very proud and at peace, knowing that I share my daughter’s life with so many people who love her as I do,” she said.
- written by Ariahna Black on May 5th, 2013
- posted in Reporting and Writing