On December 9, GC St. Michaels held a community engagement at a local skilled nursing facility. Each year, we budget for a community service during the holiday season. This year, the Love Avenue team decided to buy Christmas presents for the residents of the facility. Rather than merely dropping off the gifts, we received permission to plan a fun game that could be interactive and relational. We played the Dice Game with the gift-wrapped presents; if you roll doubles, you get to pick out a prize. (Some people know it as the White Elephant Game.)
The staff of the skilled nursing facility said that their residents did not often participate in group activities, so we should not expect any more than a couple people to show up. We were grateful and surprised when around 20 residents attended! One resident, who really wanted to attend, had recently contracted COVID. We selected a couple of presents to be delivered to her room. She was overwhelmed to be remembered and cried tears of joy.
The residents who joined in the game had mobility limitations, so the youth from our congregation helped make the game accessible for them. Our young members (grades kindergarten to sophomore in high school) walked the dice around to each player, sometimes even helping the person roll the dice. If the player got doubles, their young helper would run up to the table, pick out a present, and bring it back to them.
I was so proud of our young people and the interactions and relationships they established with the residents. At first, they were a little shy. Actually, both the residents and our youth were shy! But in no time, everyone was talking, laughing, and having a great time. The staff of the nursing home was amazed at how well it went.
By Jon Arnold, Facilitator
St. Michaels, MN, US