Cecile San Agustin
DPD residents perform acts of service to give back to community
OAK RIDGE - As mothers were honored Sunday on Mother’s Day, a thoughtful group of residents at the Department for Persons with Disabilities (DPD), a diocesan Catholic Charities agency, decided to give back to young mothers and moms-to-be in need.
This group is part of the “Fight for the Right” club, whose members are made up of residents at DPD group homes throughout the Diocese. From one charity to another, they have one goal in mind — to serve those in need. The club meets once a month and with the help of volunteers and employees of DPD, the group has already helped the poor who need the assistance of food pantry and homeless animals at a local shelter. In time for Mother’s Day, Birth Haven, in Newton, a non-profit organization that provides shelter, support and education for homeless, pregnant women and girls, was the recipient of the club’s generosity.
“This was a big undertaking for them,” said Patricia Barrett, director of pastoral care at DPD, “The residents, with the help of volunteers, did the footwork to raise money, gifts and donations that were collected. With these gifts, they presented a Mother’s Day goodie bag filled with baby items and personal care items for seven new moms.”
Birth Haven can shelter up to nine mothers and their babies. Most residents are between the ages of 17 and 21 and often come to Birth Haven in a significant state of crisis. The shelter provides a safe and nurturing environment in which to carry an unexpected pregnancy to term. The young mothers also learn the tools necessary to achieve greater self-sufficiency.
“The residents learned about the organization and right away wanted to take on the cause,” Barrett said. “It was a wonderful opportunity for the residents of DPD to work hard in service to others.”
The “Fight for the Right” club was formed a few years ago to give the residents, who were interested, a chance to help out the community. The club is just one of the many opportunities that the DPD offers to serve men and women with developmental and intellectual disabilities that go beyond providing housing and its day programs.
“In reality, it is about being part of a loving family and community that attends to both the physical and spiritual needs of each person,” Barrett said. “We are very happy to support them in the ‘Fight for the Right’ club since they are being the benefactors rather than always being the one receiving charity. It is very empowering for them.”
Every third week of the month, the club members meet to discuss a cause or an organization. From there, the group plans how to give back to the organization whether it’s through a collection or spending time with the organization. Just recently, the group created centerpieces for a fund-raiser that was hosted by the Jefferson Township Women’s Club.
“Many of our clients are aware that they are the beneficiaries of the kindness of so many that support DPD. It’s a whole different experience when they become the ones giving. Our clients say, ‘God wants us to help people’ or ‘I made somebody very happy so that makes me happy,’ ” Barrett said.