By Stan Friedman
CHICAGO, IL (January 7, 2015) — When the Broward County Sheriff’s Department saw the toy bears that residents of Covenant Village of Florida had made for children in hospitals, the law-enforcement agency knew it wanted to place its own order. It requested 150 bears and now donates bears to children experiencing a home crisis or who have survived a car accident.
Women with crafting skills at the Florida retirement community began making the bears five years ago and donated them to children in need. They have given the bears to the new Children’s Emergency Room at Westside Regional Medical Center and the Ronald McDonald House, as well as other places.
It’s just one of many ministries for residents of Covenant Retirement Communities (CRC) across the country. They exhibit the same spirit that led early Covenanters in 1886 to start the Home of Mercy in Chicago to serve the needs of orphans and the elderly who had nowhere else to go. The Home of Mercy was the first project of what would become Covenant Retirement Communities.
The ministries adapt with the needs. The Hats for Heroes project began at Covenant Village of Colorado in the fall of 2008, making hats and scarves for members of the Colorado National Guard at Buckley Air Force Base who were stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As fewer troops were stationed overseas, the residents partnered with the Denver Rescue Mission and other churches with ministries to the homeless. So far, nearly 20 residents have made more than 1,050 hats.
Residents of other communities have contributed to ministries around the country and the world through projects such as collecting shoes so children in other nations can attend school and providing clothing and food to families in need.
Karen Johnson, director of church relations and community outreach for Covenant Village of Colorado, said the ministries reflect residents’ desire to serve God and make living in the communities special.
It was just a year after Swedish immigrants formed the denomination that they established the Home of Mercy and then started others around the country. The early homes were houses that were converted to serve multiple residents. The ministries were largely supported locally.
As the ministry expanded through the purchase and development of larger retirement communities, a national organization was needed to coordinate the projects. The Covenant Board of Benevolence formed the CRC management committee in 1983 and became a formal organization in 1986.
Covenant Retirement Communities have consistently rated as some of the premier facilities in the country. This week the denomination celebrates Covenant Retirement Communities Sunday. For more information about CRC, visit the website or call 773-878-2294.