Marian Park, a subsidized housing complex, offers many opportunities to volunteer with refugees
I first became aware of Marian Park, a subsidized housing complex across from Target on Roosevelt Road in Wheaton, when my children were in elementary school. All the children from that complex attended Madison Elementary School with my kids, and I was immediately drawn to them. When I later became the school secretary at Madison I had an even greater opportunity to interact with these students and their families. Most of the families at Marian Park are immigrants, or refugees, so there is a real need for support for them. Having grown up in Africa myself, I felt a kinship. I was very fortunate to be able to build relationships with many of the families over the years, and help them navigate their way through the school system.
When I retired in 2012, my husband Doug and I started volunteering at the Marian Park tutoring program which Lombard businessman Tom Masterson started over 25 years ago. It has been a joy to maintain contact with the Madison students I knew so well, and to see some of them go off to college and be successful.
While two hours of tutoring help one evening a week is not necessarily going to change a child’s academic course, there is also an application here for one of Fr. Kevin’s sermons. He spoke of ‘doable evangelism’. One of his points was to love people enough to plant a FLAG (free listening and attention giveaway), and another was to love people enough to show our ID – that we are trustworthy and a Christian. Although I did not think about it until after hearing the sermon, this is evangelism, and it is definitely doable – showing up each week, loving and listening to these children, and identifying ourselves as believers. The third point he made was to love people enough to be patient with their process.
We may not see the final result, but we may be planting a seed, or watering seeds planted by others. The tutoring program is offered on Thursday evenings from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Please consider joining us!