May 4, 2012
Madeira High School student Sean McElroy had heard his mom talk about work often. Patti McElroy has been a nurse at St. Joseph Home in Sharonville for many years, and genuinely loves coming to work every day. When Sean needed to fill some service hour requirements for school, he decided to spend some time at St. Joseph Home.
Sean started volunteering in February 2011. He has since dedicated countless hours to the residents and respite guests of the Home, which serves children and adults who have severe/profound developmental disabilities. Sean soon realized that volunteering at St. Joseph Home did much more than fill a school requirement – it brought him into a community of people who believe that everyone has value.
He quickly became comfortable with the residents of St. Joseph Home, learning their names, likes and dislikes. Sean started as a swimming volunteer on Tuesdays nights, but soon began to occasionally come and visit his new friends Dustin and Maddie on other days. He regularly assists residents on community outings, including trips to local restaurants, parks, sporting events, and museums. Last summer, he joined residents in creating and wearing cowboy gear for St. Joseph Home’s “Wild West” themed Summer Camp program.
“Sean takes time to notice each resident,” says Carlee Clark, Activities Coordinator at St. Joseph Home. “He talks to them, gets to know them, and has fun with them.”
St. Joseph Home residents are non-ambulatory and non-verbal, yet they find ways to say “thank you” to volunteers through smiles, kisses, hugs, and high fives. “These connections with volunteers are extremely important, and something we cannot put a value on,” says Clark. “Our volunteers offer a special kind of relationships that our residents, staff and families need here at St. Joseph Home.”
April is National Volunteer Appreciation month, and St. Joseph Home celebrated with a recognition dinner on April 25, where McElroy was presented with a framed award and photo.
“So many of our volunteers say they came here to make a difference in the life of a person with a disability,” says Debbie Kaegi, who nominated McElroy for the award. “But they find instead it’s the other way around -- that a person with a disability has made a difference in their life.”
To learn more about volunteering at St. Joseph Home, contact Volunteer Coordinator Amy McMahill at (513) 563-2520, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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