Outside the lunch room at Camp Agape

Last Saturday, the Brevard County Recreation Department, South Sector, hosted a marvelous barbecue picnic for people with disabilities and their parents.  There was an ample surplus of food.  The day was warm with a soft summer breeze that refreshed everyone, except the cook, of course.  He was kept busy all day.  He was preparing the food, cooking the food, making up plates for people who wanted to take food home with them and finally cleaning up as the others disbursed.

After the wonderful barbecue and the paper plate mess had been thrown away, scrap papers picked up, and table wiped, my good friend, Marlo,  went up to the man who had cooked all day for the picnickers.  “Thank you so much.  I know how hard you worked today.” 

Marlo is a Special Gathering volunteer who is also a parent.  Special Gathering is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  Our purpose is to evangelize and disciple people with developmental disabilities.  After the picnic, Marlo had helped clean up the mess along with Barbara Mitchell, the South Sector Director, and a couple of other people, including the cook. 

“Yes,” the cook said in response to her comment about his hard work.  Marlo had found out during the course of the day that the cook had also supplied most of the food.  This man is not a parent or a professional working within the mentally challenged community.  He is a volunteer who wanted to do something to help people with disabilities.  “It was my pleasure,” he continued, “but I don’t understand something.  You are the only person who came up to me to say thank you.”

Marlo’s questioned me later in the week, “Why do some people in the mentally challenged community have a sense of entitlement?  Can’t we see that the government and other people can’t do it all.  We must be able to do something for ourselves.  Can’t we see that because of our great need, we must have a great deal of gratefulness?  When did we become takers who aren’t thankful to all the people who give to us and then give again?”

Of course, I’ve seen the same thing.  Though I must say that I’ve never experienced this myself.  I am greatly appreciated by all my members and parents.  While probably 90 percent of people in the mentally challenged community are hard-working people who only want a job so they can pay their fair-share of taxes, there are some who have come to expect others to do for them.  This is not a good trend. 

I’ve seen over the years, that people will do anything for me, as long as I am grateful.  In fact, I’m the same way.  I’ll do and do, as long as I sense a grateful heart.  Yet, my gut grinds when I feel I’m being taken advantage.  

Please and thank you are still those charmingly old-fashioned words that open doors and tell the world that we are grateful for the help we receive.  What some ways you’ve learned to be grateful by your members?  What are a few things they do for you that show their gratitude?