What compelled you to volunteer at Maryhouse?
I retired in 2014 and for a year I just enjoyed doing fun things like meeting with friends for walks, meeting for lunch and dinner and going to the theatre and spending more time with my family. Although it was fun something was missing from my life. I volunteered at Loaves and Fishes preparing for Thanksgiving in 2015 and when I arrived at the campus and said Hi to a few guests I knew this was a place I wanted to spend more time. In January 2015 I attended an orientation at Loaves and Fishes and I spoke to Sister Libby and she said Maryhouse needs a volunteer. When we arrived at Maryhouse on the tour and I met the Maryhouse staff and met some of the guests ;I knew this was a place I would love to know more. After having two successful careers I wanted to give back and this looked like a great opportunity to do that. I must say that I received much much more from the guests and staff that I gave to them.
What does the Maryhouse Program mean to you?
It is a very special place for very courageous women who are trying to make the best of very difficult circumstances which includes but is not limited to not having shelter and food. I admire and respect each guest because they are doing something that I could not do; they are not only surviving they are living with so little. I started as a volunteer at Maryhouse to give back to the community and I must say that each guest has given back to me much more than I have given them. I work at the front desk and I have brief direct contact with the guests when I check if they received mail or when they request to be put on the shower list. I love that contact because I get to ask how they are doing and many of the guests tell me how they are doing and although it is a brief conversation it is a meaningful connection for each of us. I believe the guests know and feel that the staff and volunteers are there to serve them and help them have the best day that they can have and that is a great feeling. It is my hope that each guest knows and understands how special and loved they are. The staff at Maryhouse makes sure that each guest is welcome and respected and that there is always a safe, comfortable vibe for everyone. Maryhouse is really a magical place and I am at a loss for words to describe it adequately. I love my time at Maryhouse and I have met many women that I love and respect that I would not have met if I had not volunteered here. Lucky Me.
What is your hope for Maryhouse guests?
My hope for Maryhouse Guests is that they know and feel that they are important and loved and that they never lose hope that someday they will have what they deserve shelter, food, and access to health care. It is my hope that we as a community give them some reason to continue to hope. Many of our guests have been living in cars and on the street for years this is wrong and unconscionable! My wish for each guest is that in the near future they have time to enjoy life and that they do not need to spend every minute and every hour of everyday just surviving. Each guest deserves the best because they are the best!
How do you reflect on the pandemic?
The pandemic has brought to light the inequalities in our society. My life is very different from the lives of Maryhouse guests and it should not be that way. If I am sick my access to health is easy but access to health care for Maryhouse guests is not easy and often not even available. Sadly to say that some of our guests died in the streets and alone; this is again unconscionable. I am hopeful that we as a community will strive a bit harder to do the right thing and provide the basic necessities such as shelter, food, and access to health care to everyone soon. I am currently not volunteering at Maryhouse but I am looking forward to returning to the front desk and rekindling the friendships I have made with the guests at Maryhouse. I miss each of them very, very much.