Truly A Heart Full of Mercy
by Jule Ward
For thirty years, our family shared the care of two of our children, Kristin and Johnny, with Misericordia Home. Many treasured memories of our family’s time at Misericordia live in my heart, but the ones I remember best are times when its generosity of spirit lit up like a giant Christmas tree.
In 1985, when we took our son Johnny for his first visit to the school, we shared dinner with a friendly group of fellows in one of the Village Homes. At the end of dinner, one resident pushed back his chair. “I’d like to stay and have dessert with you,” he said, “but it’s my night to volunteer at the homeless shelter.” His words solidified my instinct that Johnny would find love and empathy among his new housemates.
Some years later, the students at the Learning Center engaged in a geography program which focused deeply on one nation each year. Through their studies, they became aware of hunger in the world. This realization heightened the gratitude they felt for the abundance of care they received at Misericordia and motivated them to help those less favored. With their teachers’ help, they organized an on-campus “Walk for Hunger”. Family and friends pledged funds to support the walk.
The Wonder of the Misericordia Bakery
by Terry Baugh
Misericordia held a warm place in my heart even before I heard about the Hearts and Flour Bakery. My friends, Barb and Dave, had undertaken a long and nearly impossible search to find a nurturing place for their son, Seth, to live. When he was accepted at “Les Mis” as they fondly refer to it, the search ended, and Barb moved to Chicago to be close to Seth. Visiting Barb in Chicago and volunteering at the bakery was a great opportunity for me to catch up with my friend and spend a week working hard and feeling great about every day.
Volunteering for the bakery at Misericordia is a satisfying experience in giving back. The bakery is a hub of activity, with experienced bakers and novices, like me. I volunteered in 2019 just before the holidays. Christmas music played in the background and staff and volunteers and residents cheerily greeted each other as new people arrived for their shifts. Got a hairnet or hat? Apron? Gloves? You are ready to go.
Jon’s Misericordia Thank You Story
by Cynthia Maroon
It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 40 years since that day when Vicki and Patty Gloor, two of my best friends, and I drove Jon for his placement at Misericordia South. He was only 4 ½ years old, and it was one of the most difficult days of my life. Little did I know that it was also the beginning of what’s become Jon’s full, rich life! I must admit that for the first six years I felt guilty and sad, and I would cry on the way home after taking him back following our frequent home visits. But as the years rolled by, I slowly began to realize that Jon was not only happy at Misericordia South, but he was thriving there! He was surrounded by staff who called him “Chocolate Eyes,” and who could offer him so much special attention, loving care, and stimulation. With all of that, coupled with his weekly home visits where he was constantly entertained by his brother, Michael, and his sister, Laura, and all their friends, Jon was living what I can only call “the good life”! Eventually Misericordia started bussing him out to school in Oak Park and I could also visit him frequently when I became his elementary school, middle school, and finally his high school “honorary room mother”.
Transcending Sports: A Different Kind of Champion
by Jim Varey
My brother, Steven, swims in the Men’s 50m Freestyle at the Special Olympics. Let me tell you about the last time he competed. Stephen had a great start, but hit a wall about three-quarters of the way through the race. I stood on the deck, but once he completed the initial 25m, I couldn’t see him on the return pass. When I did see him, it seemed he thought the race was completed. He was clearly gassed and aware that everyone was finishing ahead of him. But he dug deep in a futile effort to make up as much time as he could, even though it was evident that he couldn’t win or even place.
At this point, I stopped recording and hustled over to the top of his lane. The gym had previously been bustling with ovations and cheers, but now was eerily quiet. Before Steven put his head down to give it his all, he looked right at me as if to say, “I’m finishing this damn race!” For a moment, nothing else mattered and there was no one else in that gym besides my little brother and me. It was if we were kids back in Carol Stream at the Aldrin Swimming Center, trying to get to the last wall.
Saying Goodbye to My Sister Kathy
by Elizabeth Green
On a regular basis, everyone sees how wonderful, talented and amazing our staff is. We hear from Sister Rosemary that we share our family members with our Misericordia family and never was this so obvious to our family than during the end of life.
Recently, my sister, Kathy, was in her last days. My parents and I experienced our McAuley staff at their finest. From the start of the end of life process, the staff let us know that they would be there for us, to support us through every step of the process.
We were able to be in constant contact with Kathy’s Director, Q, nurses and CNAs. They were all open to us calling in to check on Kathy when we couldn’t be there. They made sure she had all of her comforts and favorites: pillows, food and, most importantly, hugs and love.
Move in day for Jason and Sean
by James Lee
On a warm August morning, we received a call informing us that Jason and Sean would be moving into the Rosemary Connelly Home at Misericordia on November 7, 2016.
It was one of the hardest challenges that we had had to face in almost 20 years! Jason being three years older than Sean, gave us such a hard time. He knew exactly what was happening. We were breaking his daily routine. Our boys are non-verbal and non-ambulatory, but both understood everything that was going on.
Several years earlier they were diagnosed with BCAP-31, a very rare genetic disorder.
A Mis Mom’s Journey
by Diane Carpenter
When our daughter Beth was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2 ½ and the severity of her disability became apparent, the never-ending worry began of who would take care of her when I no longer could.
As she got older, the realization that she would need to live in a residential facility someday was too heart breaking to contemplate, so it got pushed back to the “I’ll think about that later” part of my brain.
23 years ago when Beth was 14, Rob, a friend of ours whose daughter lives at Misericordia, told us all about Mis. He and his wife took us for lunch at the Greenhouse Inn and arranged for us to go on a tour to see what Mis was all about. We were quite impressed. I picked up an application which sat on my desk for 6 years because I wasn’t mentally ready to fill it out. Rob then gently reminded us that we should at least get the application in. So, I called Mis and got an updated one, and it sat on my desk for another 6 years.
by Judy Wall
Christy was our first child and first grandchild for my family. Joy and excitement were ours during her early weeks and months. I began to get my feet under me as a mom, Jim adjusted to the newness of being someone’s dad, and Christy, well Christy was a happy, healthy, beautiful, bright infant full of smiles and coos. In December of 1977 Christy turned 5 months old, her seizures began, and life as we knew it ended. Any simple assumptions we had about the road ahead were erased, although we did not yet know this. The first seizure lasted 2 hours, brought an ambulance ride, a hospitalization, tests, and anticonvulsants. As well as the hope that terrible experience would never recur. Of course, within a few weeks another seizure came, and now through her 45 years they have never stopped coming. They sneaked around every anticonvulsant and treatment and continued to cause damage. As the years have gone on, they have robbed my precious daughter of so much. But those of you who know Christy see a happy, smiling, joking girl who has boundless love to give.
Misericordia Provides Food for the Soul AND for the Body!
by Brian Kearney
Life centers around food everywhere, including at Misericordia. Anthony “Tony” Kearney Jr., our oldest brother at Misericordia, smiles and says, “Many people eat. It is Mr. Bob Noga who cooks the meals for our home.”
Over 1100 employees, 600 residents and many volunteers eat every day, every month, every year on the 64-acre Misericordia campus. In addition to preparing food for all these people, Misericordia also operates a restaurant, The Greenhouse Inn, the Hearts and Flour Bakery, the Hearts and Flour Bakery & Cafe, and The Misericordia Sweetheart Shoppe in Glenview. And there are also shipping orders, sales at various pop-up tents, and holiday stores.
The Wonders of Misericordia
by Linda Buchalo
This past year has given me much time to think about a lot of things, among them how truly blessed I am to have found a home for my son Andy at Misericordia. I’ve also thought a lot about the past, including life before Mis, with school staffings and services from other organizations. As I ponder these memories, I think how much better life is for Andy now, despite the pandemic and all its restrictions.
I’ve come to appreciate even more how different Misericordia is from many other organizations that offer services for people with disabilities. And other parents have shared with me how pleasantly surprised they were in making the transition to life at Misericordia.
As I think back to the days of Andy being in school, I remember good times, but I also remember the torture of staffings—my husband and I facing a panel of “experts” who listed all the areas where our child was deficient. I always walked away feeling sad that no one appreciated my son’s abilities.