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Summer picnics return to St. Coletta's of Illinois!

Jun 6, 2024

All Saints Lutheran Church revives cherished tradition

After a challenging hiatus due to the pandemic, the beloved summer picnics for developmentally disabled individuals at St. Coletta’s of Illinois are back, thanks to the warm embrace of All Saints Lutheran Church.

On June 5, Pastor Don Borling and members of the All Saints congregation welcomed 60 developmentally disabled adults and chaperones to their beautiful church grounds for an afternoon of fellowship, laughter and community spirit.

The congregation prepared a smorgasbord of options, including grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, complemented by a variety of homemade side dishes and desserts, while engaging participants in conversation. Afterward, they invited everyone to play baseball or test their skills at a game of bean bag toss.

Another group of individuals will picnic at the Orland Park church on June 20.

The biweekly picnics started 30 years, driven by a sense of community and compassion.

“It’s part of who we are,” said Pastor Don.

Initially, the church invited small groups to enjoy fellowship and share food and fun every two weeks. Over time, the gatherings grew in both participation and significance, becoming a cherished event that reflects the church’s enduring commitment to inclusivity and support for all individuals.

Through the years, Pastor Don has gotten to know many of the participants by name, building lasting relationships with them. Some were in their teens when the church first started hosting the picnics, and now they are in their late 40s or early 50s.

Even though the pandemic temporarily paused the church’s summer picnics, it did not weaken the strong bonds forged by Pastor Don and his congregation.

When All Saints resumed their summer picnics on June 5, many of the participants recognized Pastor Don, and he recognized them, highlighting the deep connections built over the years. One participant even remembered Pastor Don’s birthdate and age.

The collaboration between All Saints Lutheran Church and St. Coletta’s of Illinois represents a shared commitment to supporting individuals with developmental disabilities and promoting an environment of acceptance and understanding. The picnics offer an opportunity for everyone involved to build meaningful connections and celebrate the diversity of talents and experiences within our community.

“We are grateful to All Saints Lutheran Church for their warm hospitality and dedication

to creating a welcoming environment for individuals with developmental disabilities,” said St. Coletta’s CEO Heather Benedick. “These picnics are more than just events; they are opportunities for our community members to connect, build friendships and experience the joy of belonging.”

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