Madison’s Garden: An Amazing Group of Volunteers. “Feeling needed and valued for the little things we do.”

“A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” - Mark 12: 42-44 -

Receiving more than you give is a common experience for Catholic Charities’ volunteers. Serving people experiencing life’s challenges is a heart-warming and humbling opportunity to learn more about yourself and neighbors in our community.

For one special group of volunteers, the experience means even more.

Every week, a team of adults from Madison’s Garden, a day program for adults with developmental delays, spends their Tuesday afternoons at Samaritan House preparing sandwiches for thousands of neighbors Catholic Charities serves. Working closely with the food services team, these generous people know that their volunteering will make a real difference.

“I like helping people who are hungry,” said Maria Waymel, one of the dedicated volunteers from Madison’s Garden. “I put together 100 sandwiches today and that will help 100 people. I enjoy it.”

For Maria and her friends, the act of volunteering is broken down into three main categories: connection, accompaniment and fellowship.

Madison’s Garden considers itself a “community connector” by linking adults — who have developmental disabilities — to social and community needs. The organization is a day program for adults and their caregivers to grow closer to each other and their community. Since the group started their volunteer venture at Samaritan House, they have grown closer as a group, and are especially empathetic to the unhoused community.

The small but mighty Madison’s Garden volunteer team at Samaritan House has engineered an assembly line to get as many sandwiches prepared as possible during their two hours of service.

Maria ensures that all of the bread is laid out for Pete and Sandra to stack on the meats and cheeses. David oversees the operation by closing the sandwiches to prepare for wrapping.

Their record is 170 sandwiches in one day, but they plan to beat it.

Maria also volunteers at Marisol Family, a ministry of Catholic Charities that provides families with diapers, wipes and other items. Recently, Maria spent time putting together several layette baskets for expectant mothers to receive.

Madison’s Garden director Rosa Amezcua, has noticed a big difference in the group’s dynamic since they’ve started.

“As a director of a day program for adults with developmental disabilities, I find that volunteering is the most complete and rewarding activity for our participants. When we visit the ministries of Catholic Charities such as the Samaritan House and Marisol Family, we receive more than what we give,” shared Rosa. “The sense of belonging to a community, feeling needed and valued for the little things that we do, the welcoming and appreciation that our group gets when we arrive has been a great blessing for all of us. Everybody looks forward to it every week!”