Misericordia Heart of Mercy is celebrating it’s 100th anniversary and the executive director, Sister Rosemary Connelly, has been there over 50 years.
When Connelly started the job in 1969, the agency was caring for young children with downs syndrome, and she noticed there were no formal programs for the children.
“So I called universities and hospitals and I asked for help because I knew that they deserved programs and I didn’t know how to start them,” Connelly explained.
But she said no one could help her. So Connelly and her staff created their own programs.
“We had physical therapy that we created; we bought a sears swimming pool; we got bicycles and tires; and we were just creative,” Connelly said.
These days, Misericordia serves more than 600 children and adults with developmental disabilities.
Operations are scaled back a bit due to the coronavirus pandemic, but typically there are over 25 programs designed to meet the needs and abilities of each resident, from therapeutic services for the non-ambulatory population to programs in art, recycling and technology.
Misericordia also offers training programs to support their many businesses, such as the Hearts & Flour Bakery, the Sweetheart Shoppe in Glenview, the Greenhouse Inn Restaurant and the coffee packaging program.
“Our children and adults live wonderful lives. They are happy people, they know they are appreciated and valued, so we are just so blessed," Connelly said.
“You have to go there to witness it, to really see what they do, the incredible work that they do,” Ann Weithers, president of the Women’s League, said.