Special tour of Bishop Grady Villas is gift for donors

Bishop Grady Villas
A recent tour of Bishop Grady Villas in Saint Cloud confirmed what many of the guests already knew: the residents are the heart of this special ministry.

"This is so worthwhile to see. Everybody should plan to come and see what we have, to see the residents. They are wonderful. They are so free with their conversation and their hugs," observed Frances Pope, a parishioner at St. Matthew Catholic Church in Winter Haven.

Pope is one of 20 guests who joined Bishop Noonan on October 17 for a private tour of diocesan-supported Bishop Grady Villas, a residential facility that provides a Christ-centered, family-oriented home for 48 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Hosted by The Catholic Foundation of Central Florida, the tour was designed to help donors better understand how their gifts to Our Catholic Appeal bring hope into the lives of others. Eight of the tour guests, including Frances Pope, are members of the Corpus Christi Society, which honors those who support Our Catholic Appeal annually at the level of $10,000 or more.

Bishop Noonan led the tour with the help of several residents, who personally guided guests through the residential apartments, the herb garden and the wood shop, where residents are currently working on a nativity scene.

"There are so many opportunities that exist here. It is a very affirming place to be," explained Executive Director Kevin Johnson.

In addition to providing a loving environment where residents can thrive, the staff of Bishop Grady Villas also offers employment services and vocational training programs to residents as well as individuals in the larger community. Many of the residents are employed in full-time jobs, often at area attractions, such as Sea World and Walt Disney World.

Blake Britton, a fourth year seminarian who often volunteers at Bishop Grady Villas, was on hand to share with guests his love for the ministry and the residents.

They have enriched my understanding of the priesthood of Jesus Christ. They are role models of unconditional love."

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