A Talent For Hugs

  • By: Joni and Friends
  • July 28, 2015
  • Cause 4 Life

Anna Kate with AndrewInterns at Family Retreat

For Anna Kate, spending time with Andrew was easy — even if communication was challenging. As an STM volunteer at the Murrieta Family Retreat, she was paired with Andrew, a 14-year-old boy who has autism and is non-verbal. Even though he struggled with physical pain and understanding at times, he exhibited incredible joy. Whether with water play, music, or at the playhouse, Andrew’s joyful screams, “Whoa, whoa, whoa,” could be heard across the Retreat campus. And this happy boy loved to hug everyone… even the tall, intimidating man who was helping take family portraits. When Andrew ran up and gave him a tight hug, the man was so touched that he broke down in tears! This set off a chain reaction bringing everyone to tears, including Anna Kate as she looked on. At that moment, she realized that it didn’t matter if Andrew understood everything that was said or all of the activities that went on at Family Retreat; Andrew had love for everyone. And at the talent show on the final night of Retreat, Andrew shared his incredible talent for hugs. As he hugged and jumped up and down with another camper, Anna Kate was amazed. Despite his struggles and pain, he loved so much… and gave a hug to show it!


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