My name is Laurie Mason and I have been volunteering at Gracious Grounds for 4 years, starting in July of 2017.  At that time, I was talking with a woman at Love, Inc. about the possibility of becoming a mentor there.  This woman happened to mention the building down the street, which used to be a part of Love, but was now a residence for high functioning special needs young people called Gracious Grounds.  When I asked who was in charge of it, she said Sandy Baker.  I knew instantly that was where I wanted to be, as I had known Sandy for years, working with, learning from, and subbing for her at Spring Lake High School.  I had recently retired after 5 years of teaching special education and had a passion for working with this population  I had been praying for something meaningful to fill my days.  And the rest, as they say, is history.
My main involvement has been spending a couple of hours each week at the Desplder house, just hanging out with the residents.  We talk, help with dinner, take walks, go on bike rides, and check out how the vegetable garden is doing.  I listen as they share their activities and we just spend time together.  I’ve worked on special projects on my own with the residents, helped them move into new apartments at Lakeshore Flats, participated in many birthdays, holidays, and Friday night pizza parties.
It’s been a joy to watch our residents take part in Special Olympics activities…something with which I would love to become more involved.  The best part about being involved with Gracious Grounds is giving and receiving love from the residents and all of those who are involved.  Everything about Gracious Grounds is steeped in a wonderful sense of love.  It brings me so much joy to see the residents become more independent, growing in their life skills, learning to interact positively with other residents, and appreciating and loving the adults who are now a key part of their lives.

If you love working with people who are energetic, motivated, joyful, giving, and loving…and want to be a part of an amazing community that supports these wonderful people, I would strongly encourage you to look into becoming a volunteer with Gracious Grounds.  I have to believe it will be one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have.