Mercy Centre in Worcester resumes seasonal picnic tradition as clients, family and friends join a day of celebration
“The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”
– William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
WORCESTER – Life isn’t always a picnic.
But for more than four decades, the Mercy Centre has offered a series of employment support and community-based day programs to enrich the lives of adults with developmental disabilities, helping them learn how to interact productively in society.
In the spirt of this outreach tradition, the Mercy Centre hosted a picnic Friday for its adult clients, their family and friends.
With support from the Emerald Club, the Mercy Centre revived the picnic tradition, an event that used to be held annually but was stopped several years ago.
“There are many things that we do. We find people jobs. We have programs that are all community, leisure, social activities, and we have day hab (day habilitation) programs,” Mercy Centre Administrator Peg A. Buzzell said. “Every day is a new day.”
Emerald Club’s President Cait Lubelczyk praised the tireless work of Ms. Buzzell and her staff and the sense of accomplishment it brings to the Mercy Centre’s nearly 120 clients.
“Until you see the adults who need these services and the amount of the services that they actually need, you don’t realize how much work they do here at the Mercy Centre. You have to get in and see it for yourself,” Ms. Lubelczyk said.
“So by bringing back the picnic, it brings the Mercy Centre and the Emerald Club back together again, so it’s not just the Emerald Club having their fundraising events and sending them checks.”
In addition to Worcester and state police mounted units, the Worcester Fire Department and members of Worcester Bravehearts and Worcester Railers were on hand to add to the festivities, which featured food provided by The Broadway on Water Street.
Eileen “Wicky” Gareau’s daughter, Katy, graduated from the Perkins School for the Blind 18 years ago and has been an adult member of the Mercy Centre ever since.
“Being a parent, when you have a child, turning 22, it’s like, now where do they go?” Ms. Gareau said. “So we’re fortunate that … the Mercy Centre started an appointment support program for three young women … It was totally new for them” and they tried to help them get a job.
Today, Katy volunteers her piano-playing skills at area nursing homes and is working part-time at Danielson Flower shop in Shrewsbury, all thanks to the Mercy Centre.
“She’s been there for years. She loves it,” Ms. Gareau said of her daughter. “Even though she only works one day a week, it makes her feel so good. The Mercy Centre really gets these kids out into the community. And they’re accepted by the community … that’s what important.”
Michelle Boulay, a client at the Mercy Centre for seven years, also enjoys it there
“I love all the different opportunities we have. I love volunteering with Meals on Wheels,” Ms. Boulay said. “We have art class, movies, games and parties. It’s awesome.”
Michelle’s mother, Jill Boulay, said The Mercy Center has been a good program for her daughter.
“My daughter’s learning how to socialize better and be more patient, “ she said. “It’s been great.”
This article is reprinted by permission from