The Good Samaritans
By As reported by Mary Ketz and Joanne Podojil
Mission to the elderly of the parish
REASON FOR GETTING STARTED
We did not want our elderly parishioners to be forgotten. We know through family and friends how lonely and isolated people can feel when they can’t get around as they used to. So, our group came into being - the Good Samaritans of St. Michael Orthodox Church in Broadview Heights, Ohio. Our mission is particularly to those in the parish 75 years of age and older, as well as to all the sick and the shut-ins of the parish.
We meet every second Wednesday of the month. We begin each meeting at 9:30 A.M. with a Prayer Service in the church for all those in the parish who are aged, sick or home bound. From 10:00 A.M. to 12N we have a working session, usually making bandages for cancer patients, and discuss our home visits to parishioners and the organization of any upcoming activities. One of the members brought in the project of making the bandages to help a nearby cancer hospice. We get the supplies from the hospice and make 100 to 200 bandages each session. We end with a simple lunch that the members take turns preparing.
A main activity is to provide a lunch on all the major church feast days after the Divine Liturgy for all who can stay. Teams of two people take turns preparing the lunch which usually consists of soup, a main dish, salad, bread and butter, dessert and a drink. A free will donation basket is set on the table and the money collected adequately covers the cost of the ingredients that is repaid to the persons making the meal. Any leftover funds go into the treasury for other projects.
The dessert is usually a cake for all those having birthdays and anniversaries in that month. These people have been prayed for by name at the Liturgy and those that are at the luncheon receive a hearty rendition of “Happy Birthday” or “Happy Anniversary to you!” Sometimes there are two months of birthdays and anniversaries combined when no feast falls in a given month. On the average, 40 to 50 people attend the luncheons. A record is kept from year to year indicating each month who served the lunch, what the menu was, and the number of people served. This is a good guide and help to those who serve in the future.
Another regular activity is remembering the aged, the sick, and shut-ins with cards on their birthdays, anniversaries, on Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Each month two persons take on the task of sending these cards. Another person takes charge of sending cards to anyone hospitalized in that month. There is also a member who volunteers to send the church bulletin to those on the list not in church that Sunday or who had no family member present at the service to take it to them.
At Christmas, gifts are prepared. They’ve consisted of cookies, candy, crocheted slippers, pillows, lap afghans, shaving lotions or hand lotions, soup mugs, and bamboo calendars. At Easter we take these parishioners the pots of flowers that were used for the Lord’s tomb.
Regular visitation of the sick, the shut-ins, and those in the nursing homes is an important part of the group’s activities. Members are assigned to parishioners living closest to them. Ideally, visits are made once every week or two. Our parish priest notifies one designated person in the group of new parishioners needing visits, and that person contacts the appropriate member who either by geography or sometimes by language would be the best person to make the visit.
In our group by common agreement, we have no officers and no dues. It is very informal, and everyone pitches in to do what needs doing. New members are solicited a couple of times a year with an announcement in the church bulletin, and of course when Father announces the meeting on Sunday, he encourages anyone interested to join in.
We are amply rewarded for our endeavors just to hear how much it meant to individuals to receive a card or a visit and to know that they were not forgotten. Another great benefit is getting to know other parishioners more than just to say “Hello” - both those we visit and those we work with. The hardest part sometimes are the visits, especially when it is difficult to communicate. It would be helpful to go in pairs in these circumstances. We have fun. Father and our choir director often stay after the Prayer Service and talk with us. We talk with each other and help each other at the same time that we help others. We are not a large group, and we wish we had more members, but we are very committed to our purpose.