Spring 2016 :: Ryan Hellpap, Kingdom Workers Field Manager: Caribbean
Paula Lessey is the administrator of the Richmond Home for the Elderly in St. George’s, Grenada. This Home happens to be the only public nursing home on the island of Grenada. Paula leads a small staff of nurses, cooks, and maintenance people who manage a home that was rendered uninhabitable after Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
The residence area, kitchen, and office were reconstructed nearly 10 years ago and have not been updated since. One very key part of the home was never rehabilitated -- the therapy and activity center.
In January, Grace member, Herricia Willis, a local attorney and vice president of the United Caribbean Friendly Organization (UCFO), approached Grace on behalf of the UCFO with the idea of rehabilitating the dilapidated therapy and activity center. Grace Ministry leader Kelvin LaTouche took one look at the site and said, “We have to do something.”
Grace Church, with the help of a group of Kingdom Workers volunteers from Wisconsin Lutheran College (WLC), took on the task of giving this building a “face lift." They began by removing three dump-truck loads of junk that filled the entire private exam room, garden prep area, and outdoor seating area. Next, they painted many rooms. They constructed raised vegetable beds, allowing capable residents to participate in gardening for the first time ever.
This experience has forged long lasting relationships, both on the individual and community level. “It was so exciting to see the students passion all come out. There are brothers and sisters from outside [Grenada] who want to share their faith. They want to work and stand alongside you.”, said WLC Team Leader Pastor Greg Lyon.
WLC Senior Trip Leader Brian Hopkins spoke of one relationship in particular, “Michael is a blind resident who could play harmonica. He could play any hymn we could name. He was so happy to speak with us and while we worked, he would just play. I will remember him for a long time.”
As evidence of just how impactful these connections are, Lessey shared, “This is not normal. The residents never come out when people are here. Look at them, almost all of them are out talking to the volunteers and to each other. Most times, they are afraid of those who come.”
The connection does not stop there. One or the biggest challenges to Grace is making their name known. Grace is looking to make a positive statement about their mission by assisting in this reconstruction. Kelvin mentioned, “This is just the beginning of the process and the relationship will continue to grow as the reconstruction continues.”
The new structure should be complete by mid-2017. As plans are completed, there will be many opportunities for service and outreach to the residents and workers of the Home. Grace’s pastor, Dan Rautenberg, has been invited to lead worship services and Bible studies at the Home.
Christ’s love being shared within the community is incredible to witness and the relationship is just getting started. We will continue to share the joy of friendship built on the trust that God cares for us.