West End’s 4th–6th graders spent their Mission Week focused on responding to God’s call to be caretakers. Their first-day mission opportunity was close to home, just downstairs in McWhirter Hall where the Sunny Day Club meets every Monday.
Sunny Day Club members are older adults who are experiencing memory loss. The Club provides a social outing, physical and mental exercise, and new friends. Also, their caregivers receive a much-needed respite. For those three hours each week. they can count on time to be able to do whatever they need, from grocery shopping, running other errands, or simply finding rest and renewal for themselves.
The volunteers, usually at least two for each member, happily lead the activities, Bible stories, songs, games, and chair exercises. But mostly they are present with and to the members, assisting them, laughing with them, loving them.
Many of the volunteers come each week. Some like the Mission Week kids and even West End’s preschool children come for special occasions. West End member and volunteer, Fern Richie points out that all that is required to be a volunteer is “a smile, a heart to help, and a sunny disposition.” Visitors of all ages are welcome, including therapy animals. Snickers, the dog, is a regular and beloved volunteer.
West End member, Shara Parker knew firsthand the need from her experience of caring for her husband. She learned that Brentwood UMC had a program, which she then visited. Her spark lit the fire, and West End’s Sunny Day Club, now entering its 7th year, is paying it forward by showing other churches this way of taking care of older adults who may have forgotten much, but who respond to the sunshine of a smile and a good time.