Adults at an archdiocesan group home in Delaware County are ready for summer fun, thanks to their Catholic school neighbors.

Classic yard games including ring toss, bean bag toss and wiffle ball – along with new patio furniture — were among items recently gifted to the Swarthmore residence, one of 26 in the Communities of Don Guanella and Divine Providence (DGDP).

Operated by Catholic Social Services (CSS) and a beneficiary of the annual Catholic Charities Appeal, DGDP is an intermediate care facility for adults with intellectual disabilities, providing a continuum of support for clients and their families.


The donation, which was topped off by colorful handmade signs, was organized by fourth- and fifth-grade students at nearby Notre Dame de Lourdes School as part of their annual service project. Funds for the items were collected through a “Crazy Sock Day” drive held earlier in the spring.

With the DGDP house located on the grounds of the school’s former parish (which merged in 2014 with Our Lady of Peace in Milmont Park), the choice of beneficiary was a natural, said fourth-grade teacher Regina Barker, who headed up the effort along with fifth-grade teacher Anita Shea.

In particular, Barker said, the students selected the home “because (residents) have not been able to interact with the community due to the pandemic.”

Barker knows firsthand: she has a family friend who lives there.

Adults with intellectual disabilities (IDD), especially those with Down syndrome, are at high risk for severe infection from COVID. Throughout the pandemic, DGDP residents and staff adopted robust mitigation protocols that limited contact to prevent infection. The agency’s health officials and administrators also spearheaded regional efforts to make COVID vaccinations available to the area’s IDD population through a number of clinics.

Having had their jabs, the DGDP Swarthmore residents are now looking forward to some downtime on their lawn – and a few ring toss face-offs.

Amid the fun, said Barker, the effort helped instill in the Notre Dame students “compassion for others through performing the cardinal virtues.”

Father Joseph Devlin, pastor of Our Lady of Peace, agreed.

“An outreach such as this is essential to the mission of Catholic education, which seeks to educate not just the mind but the soul,” he said. “(It instills) in our students Gospel values, such as love of neighbor — especially the neighbor who needs special care and concern.”

Students in grades four and five at Notre Dame de Lourdes School in Swarthmore display yard games and handmade signs they donated to residents of a nearby group home operated by archdiocesan Catholic Social Services as part of its Communities of Don Guanella and Divine Providence. (Archdiocese of Philadelphia)