“We take care of our neighbors,” said Heidi Isler, manager of JF&CS CHAI Works-South in Canton. “It’s as simple as that.” When Heidi found out about the recent fire at a housing complex for senior citizens in nearby Stoughton, she knew the participants in our community-based day program for adults with disabilities would want to help.

According to WBZ News, a lightning strike likely sparked the July 18 fire at the Stoughton Housing Authority on Capen Street. Firefighters safely evacuated 53 people from the senior housing complex, but the building suffered extensive damage. “Some of the older adults affected by the fire lost everything,” said Heidi. “We had to do something to show our neighbors that we were thinking of them.”

Bringing Something Beautiful

On Monday, July 22, Heidi and a group of CHAI Works-South participants visited the two hotels where the displaced seniors were staying. The CHAI Works crew arrived with a bounty of colorful flowers that were donated by Shaw’s supermarket in Cobbs Corner. “We brought flowers because we wanted those affected by the fire to have something beautiful during this difficult time,” explained Heidi. In addition to the lovely flowers, the CHAI Works-South group also donated a variety of board games so the fire victims would have something to do during their hotel stay.

The guests and staff at the two hotels were surprised and deeply touched by these donations. A staff member at one of the hotels told the CHAI Works participants they were heroes for their work that day. The participants took great pride in knowing their volunteering had brightened the days of the people displaced by the fire.

Part of the Community

Heidi is already planning more ways for CHAI Works-South to assist the older adults who lost their homes. CHAI Works participants have created cards for the seniors, and Heidi is in contact with the Stoughton Council on Aging and the Old Colony YMCA as they coordinate their response to the fire. The YMCA is spearheading an effort to collect toiletries for the displaced people, and CHAI Works has volunteered to deliver these items.

“CHAI Works-South wants to help in any way we can,” said Heidi. “We have been talking a lot with our participants about being grateful for what we have and the importance of lending a hand to those in need. CHAI Works is part of this community, and we are here to lift our neighbors up.”

JF&CS Day Programming and Employment Services create meaningful and fulfilling opportunities for individuals with disabilities to lead productive and integrated lives in their communities and increase their feelings of self-worth and confidence. For more information, visit us online or call 781-647-5327.

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