St. Martin’s in the Pines and Galleria Woods Christmas Wrapping Parties

Before getting into the uplifting part of the story, there will be a brief soapbox. Older adults and/or adults living with disabilities are often overlooked and dismissed in our society… one of the most unspoken and unjust issues in America. Our older adults in-and-around Birmingham have provided countless blessings, both to our local communities, and the county as a whole. Inter-generational disputes between Millennials and Baby Boomers seem to occupy large sections of the news and social media, but why? Both generations are simply voicing their opinions, and doing what they feel is best to promote a healthy, helpful society.

This past month, GKC had the honor and privilege to work with two independent living retirement communities in order to help single parents and homeless teens. St. Martin’s in the Pines and Galleria Woods Retirement helped GKC wrap hundreds of Christmas presents for these underappreciated members of our community. Throughout the experiences, I think we were all reminded of how the intentions of a cause are far more powerful in uniting people than piddly personality differences may be in separating us.

At St. Martin’s in the Pines, the Activities Director, Monica, and the Director of Fundraising, Nichole, worked diligently alongside the fifteen-plus elderly volunteers who helped decorate and wrap Christmas presents for single parents. My goodness, did these women work! Ribbons, bags, and bows were swirling around everywhere like a festive tornado. In fact, many of the residents were outperforming those of us who were a a few decades their junior. These women knew they had a mission to wrap the few hundred items that had been donated, and they tirelessly stuffed and fluffed the Christmas bags.

Similarly, at Galleria Woods, though there were fewer women who came, those who did come worked like machines. Many of the women stood the entire time, so they could be as efficient as possible in wrapping the dozens of coats and blankets. Their work ethic and verve would put any college student to shame!

The highlight of the weekend at both retirement communities was definitely getting to know some of the residents a little better. One gentleman shared his story of growing up with a severe learning disability in the 1960s, and how his refined personal and professional skills were able to be utilized at the special olympics! Or another woman, from Galleria Woods, who talked about what it was like being married to the same man for over sixty years; it was truly until death did they part. Stories about this kind of courage and commitment can help us appreciate the tenacity of the human spirit. God never gives us a challenge we cannot overcome, and these sweet, social, older adults are proof of how anything is possible when there is enough heart put into meeting a goal.

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