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Scrub Club kids wash wheelchairs, walkers

Scrub club members (from left) Joe Mullen, Troy Amos and Levi Erickson
clean a walker at Oklahoma Methodist Manor. UMNS photos by John Gordon.

A UMNS Feature
By John Gordon*
Oct. 29, 2009 | TULSA, Oklahoma

Lucille Slicker, 92, pulls in to have her wheelchair washed by Taylor Kellum-Webb (left) and Chyna Mayer at the Oklahoma Methodist Manor in Tulsa.
UMNS photos by John Gordon.

TULSA, Oklahoma--Fifth- and sixth-graders at an Oklahoma church are reaching across generations—washing wheelchairs and walkers at nursing homes--and proving that mission work appeals to all ages.

Members of the Scrub Club at Christ United Methodist Church in Tulsa don’t seem to mind giving up a few hours on Saturdays, when they could be playing video games or watching cartoons at home. Instead, they’re volunteering their time to visit retirement homes with their mops and buckets.

“I just like helping out people,” says Troy Amos, 12, while cleaning wheelchairs and walkers at Oklahoma Methodist Manor. “And I like washing stuff.”

Peggy Asher, 85, watches as the group scrubs her wheelchair. Asher knows a bit about the younger generation. She’s a retired school teacher.

“I am impressed with how they stayed with the job,” Asher tells the children. “Because sometimes kids work a little bit, they lose their enthusiasm. But you were so nice to come and we really appreciate you coming out.”

Members of the Scrub Club get to work cleaning wheelchairs and walkers.

Ed Schmitt, 97, also looks on as his walker is cleaned.

“I won’t know it now,” he jokes.

The Scrub Club is part of a children’s group organized at Christ United Methodist Church in June. The group is growing steadily, reaching about 20 members in the first two months.

Susan Tindell, children’s ministry director at the church, came up with the idea of the Scrub Club as a community outreach. Methodist Manor is the second retirement home visited by the kids.

“We kind of tried to reach an age that wasn’t really being reached,” explains Tindell. “Our fifth- and sixth- graders, they were too young for the youth group but they were too old for children’s. And they had a heart to do fun things and they wanted to do some of the mission work that youth did.”

Tindell wants the outreach to do more than clean walkers and wheelchairs. She hopes to build ongoing relationships between the children and residents of the retirement homes.

Susan Tindell, children’s ministry director at Christ United Methodist Church, came up with the idea of the Scrub Club to encourage youngsters to build relationships with seniors.

“It’s fun to learn about the past and another person’s point of view,” says Josh Smith, 10.

Smith says the Scrub Club puts the golden rule into action.

“Do unto others,” he says. “And when I get old, I’m going to want people to do the same thing.”

Chyna Mayer, 10, and several other Scrub Club members enjoy a visit to the room of one of Methodist Manor’s residents.

“She showed me her garden and she was just really nice to me,” says Mayer.

Tindall is not surprised at the turnout, with nearly all the members of the children’s program showing up for the wheelchair wash.

“You’ve got to give them opportunities,” she says. “We just assume that kids don’t want to do these things. Well, this just shows the opposite--we gave the kids the opportunity and they all showed up and they had a great time.”

Madison Erickson, 10, notices the smiles on the faces of the Methodist Manor residents.

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“They don’t really have a lot of company. So having us come around here, I think, really makes them happy,” she says.

Asher, the retired teacher, says the wheelchair wash also offers a glimpse into the future.

“A lot of older people talk about young kids all going to the dogs. I know better than that, because I’ve taught an awful lot of good kids,” she says.

“And I think I’ve seen a lot of them here, too.”

*Gordon is a freelance producer and writer based in Marshall, Texas.

 News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

Web link: Christ United Methodist Church children’s ministries http://www.cumctulsa.com/Children.htm

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