When the residents of Elmwood House looked out their windows last month, they saw something special, something that brightened their day — and they saw someone cared.
Good Samaritan Society-Woodland’s memory care unit in Brainerd was part of a Lakewood Evangelical Free Church’s service project that involved beautifying the house’s windows.
“We just called it ‘paint bombing’ because that’s what we did,” Children's Ministry Director Barb Filiatrault said of last month’s event. “We opened up an opportunity for our families during the shelter-at-home time to go over to Woodland homes and use chalk paint on the windows.”
Carol Stuard is the activity director and volunteer coordinator at Good Samaritan who coordinated with the church and allowed last month's church's service project.
“They liked seeing the kids out there doing it as much as the painting itself,” Stuard said of the seniors. “They were just so pleased that there were kids out there and what they were doing and that was the most exciting part. And then, of course, the painting was really, really nice.”
Seven families, or about 15 of the congregation’s members from the Baxter church, participated in the May 9 field trip that was the brainchild of Filiatrault.
“At that point, we had been under quarantine for weeks already, and I knew that our families were looking for a way to be able to do something that would be able to help the community but also be able to respect to social distancing,” Filiatrault said.
Stuard said of the art project, “It was pleasing to the residents … and, I guess, the one thing is lasting. You know it didn’t happen one day and then it was all gone. Remember, this is a memory chair house, so it’s enjoyed every day. In some cases, it might be new every day.”
Using stencils and colorful markers, the volunteers from the church descended upon Elmwood House and its 16 residents at Good Samaritan Society-Woodland, a senior-living community.
“We did kind of a spring flowers theme since it was Mother’s Day weekend,” Filiatrault said.
Stuard said, “What the kids did was so delicate — this is what impressed me — and just so thoughtful of the residents. A lot of our residents, especially right now, have a chair right by that window, so they’re able to look out and see those pictures every day.”
Elmwood House specializes in the care of residents with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias. Staff members provide 24-hour personalized service to residents who may need assistance or support with activities of daily living but do not need full-time medical care.
“We already had some painting on the windows, a few of them, because of the virus; some of the staff had painted hearts on the windows,” Stuard said.
Filiatrault said of the families from the church, “The paint bombing would allow them to be outside at the windows at Woodland homes, so the social distance thing wasn’t going to be a problem, but it also allowed them to be able to do something helpful in the community.”
Each week, families can now pre-register with the church for packets that come complete with background information about that week’s service project, all the supplies needed for the project and detailed instructions for completing the project as a family. The cost of each packet is $5.
“Our 'paint bombing' project was a stand-alone event. … Due to the limitations presented with social distancing … we are giving the families of Lakewood the opportunity to be Christ’s hands and feet to the local community from their homes,” Filiatrault said of a new summer series.
Some project examples include painting pots and then planting flowers in them to give to the elderly and shut-ins that have been particularly affected by the shelter-at-home order and creating care packages blessing law enforcement officers and thanking them for their work.
“Each family member will make a greeting card to bless a ‘grandfriend’ at Woodland homes — remembering that these ‘grandfriends’ have not been able to see their families during this time of lockdown,” Filiatrault said
For more information about the church’s family-based community service projects for the summer and to pre-register for the packets, visit www.lakewoodfc.com/summerimpact2020.