Mary Immaculate Health/Care Services residents prepare Easter bags for Lazarus House, a nonprofit that supports people struggling with poverty, homelessness and food insecurity. Photo courtesy of Mary Immaculate Health/Care Services.

Whenever he would see something on the news that scared him, Fred Rogers’ mother would tell him, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Mary Immaculate Health/Care Services has no shortage of helpers among its residents.

Undoubtedly, they would have made TV’s Mr. Rogers proud if he were around to see them today. They recently made a big difference by participating in Project Warm Embrace. 

“There’s always a need to help others with food, clothing and other basic necessities,” said Adrienne Cullen, director of mission integration at Lawrence, MA-based Mary Immaculate Health/Care Services and the program’s mentor. “We hope to help fill the gap for those less fortunate with efforts that meaningfully engage our residents in creative activities that give them a sense of accomplishment. It’s important for our residents to feel like they can help others as opposed to only being helped.”

Funded by a $10,000 grant from the St. Marguerite d’Youville Grant Fund, Project Warm Embrace is an opportunity for Mary Immaculate Health/Care Services nursing home and Marguerite’s House assisted living residents to give back to their community. At the first meeting, they drew approximately 20 residents from the skilled nursing ranks and 15 out of assisted living. 

In all, the residents made four fleece tie blankets and filled 42 large Easter bags, which included candy, tissues, toothpaste and brush, a box of macaroni and cheese, and more. Both the blankets and bags were donated to Lazarus House, a nonprofit in Lawrence, MA, that supports people struggling with poverty, homelessness and food insecurity.

And that is only the beginning. 

“Our first initiative was a success! We plan to take on more projects each month — making cards for service members, filling backpacks for school-aged children and more,” said Cullen. “The possibilities are limitless. I do know how important it is for residents to feel connected to the cause they are supporting. I look forward to hearing our residents’ ideas and helping them make their plans happen.”

It’s always a good idea to look for — and listen to — the helpers.