How did the Christmas Party in St. Charles come to be?
We thought it would be fun to get the homes in St. Louis County together for a social event!
How/why did we start it?
We had just opened the St. Martin home and the church has a big, beautiful Hall for parties and a large parking lot. It was accessible too. The clients love parties of any kind and I thought it would be good for the staff to get to know each other.
There was already a network in St. Charles because the homes are closer together and a social program at the campus( way back!) I felt we needed to develop our own identity in St. Louis County so clients and staff would be familiar with each other and be able to support each other.
Who all is involved with the planning and execution of the event?
I always work with a committee, no one can do it alone! Besides, it is more fun when you have a team planning an event- another part of the bonding experience! I was an Associate Director and all of the Home Managers in St. Louis County participated in the planning. We did it all in the beginning- we prepared the food, did the decorating, everything. The clients even chipped in to get more involved with it!
We divided expenses between all who attended, so it wasn’t a big financial burden. We have evolved now into an event that is underwritten by volunteer and church support. Today we still use a committee made up of the management team from all of the homes in St. Louis County. Chris Adams, Emmaus Development Operations Manager, helped coordinate the volunteer effort.
We moved the party from St. Martin to St. John’s UCC- Manchester, to Parkway UCC. We have been at Parkway for about 4 years now. It is central to all the homes and totally accessible. The church contributed $100 this year towards paying for the DJ as well as provided lots of volunteers and donated the use of their wonderful facility and cupcakes! St. John’s UCC-Manchester also provided volunteers.
What activities are available at the event?
We have a dinner (Longhorn Steak House provided the food for the last several years), dance (have had a live band and the last 2 years a DJ), clients and staff socialize, Santa Clause comes to spread Christmas cheer and hand out gifts, and there’s even a photo booth! Our folks enjoy dressing up festive and getting their pictures taken. I notice many attendees end up displaying those pictures in their homes. We also usually provide a craft that people could do during the party, or to take home with them. This year we also had some time for Karaoke!
What do you think our clients enjoy most about the event?
Many of our clients look forward to this event because they get to see their friends and staff that they usually don’t see every day. They absolutely love to catch up, socialize, play games and of course dance! Karaoke is always a favorite client activity, second only to the special visit from Santa Clause!
A HUGE shout-out to Diane for sharing this amazing story!