One of the features of The Salvation Army’s after-school program is that it works to instill in each kid the value of serving others with their time and talents.
Eight year-old Zachary Gordon has been a part of the after school program for the last two years. His mom says that enrolling him was a bit of a gamble because he has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. Communication is a struggle for Zachary, particularly with kids his own age.
But the Army’s program was in the Gordon family’s price range and the staff was willing to take on Zachary’s special abilities.
Several times a year, the dozen or so kids in the program visit a nearby senior center called Heritage House to visit the residents of the memory care unit. Many of the seniors living there have Alzheimers disease and other cognitive challenges.
On Zachary’s first visit, he formed an instant bond with a few the residents, some two and three generations older than he is. Captain Lawry Smith said she noticed right off that he struck up a wonderful conversation with one resident in particular.
Last Thursday, Zachary and the other kids visited Heritage House to present the seniors with hand-made Valentines. While the other kids and the residents played a game of catch with a giant balloon, Zachary went from one senior to the next handing out Valentines and then made a second round to give them each a sticker.
His mom says Zachary feels safe at The Salvation Army and that his experience there has helped him make progress socially. To the delight of his family and the Army staff, he’s even begun playing with kids his own age.
But he still lights up at the sight of the seniors. We can only imagine what a delight it must be for them to see their special young visitor.
Please be praying for the kids in the Army’s after-school program and their friends at Heritage House. If you’d like to know more, please click here for a link to the website for The Salvation Army in Santa Barbara.