Day 95: Javier’s Story

‘Javier’ is a 13 year old camper with Down syndrome and a hearing impairment. He communicates minimally, but when he does, he uses basic sign language. Javier has been attending the SumFun program since he was 6 years old.

In prior years, during the five weeks of service, he resisted group activities, and was very shy about interacting with the other campers and counselors. Typically, it was well into weeks four or five before Javier was comfortable enough with the people and the routine to begin to participate and enjoy himself.

This summer, with the expansion to an eight week program, Javier was able to acclimate himself to the camp and still ease into four full weeks of activities. In the 2nd half of the summer, Javier enjoyed cooking activities, arts and crafts, horseback riding, swimming and more in a way that he had never done before. By the end of the summer, he was utilizing sign language to communicate in a more regular manner than he had achieved in prior summers, and he was even using his social skills in an appropriate manner to initiate play with other campers, something the staff had not seen him do in prior years. The additional three weeks of service added in 2011 made a huge difference in the progress that many of the campers were able to achieve during their summer break.


Day 94: Holy Family

Today’s story comes from a beautiful letter written to the editor of the Plain Dealer.  You can read the original post here.

Any family knows how hard it is to deal with a loved one who has been diagnosed with cancer.

Watching my mother fight this disease for the last three years has been very difficult for my family. With this burden on all of our shoulders, a blessing for not only my mother but the entire family was the care received at Holy Family Hospice located in Parma.

A smile stretched across my mother’s face when she knew Paula Jackson, social worker, and home nurse Monique Wright were on the way for a checkup. Not only did they make her feel better, but also provided my father with much comfort about the situation. Answering any questions, being available for phone calls at any given time, was a relief to all of us.

God bless my father for the care he gave my mother, for my brother and my three amazing sisters who never left her side as the time got worse.

As family members, we do not want a loved one to suffer, but the special people at Holy Family made the final days less painful.

From the clinical manager Joe Stupecki and to his whole staff, you are all unbelievable. Each and every one made my mother’s last few weeks very peaceful and much easier on my family. Thank you again to Jeff Moenich, Sheri Blazer, Sister Margaret-Mary, Father Simon, Theresa, Paul, Audrey, Annie and the rest of the staff at Holy Family. You truly are a gift from God.

Thank you.

Michael Arena and family

Valley City

Day 93: Walk by Faith

After careers in the business and political worlds I came to work at the Rose-Mary Center. What a difference! The culture at Rose-Mary was one of self giving as opposed to one of self preservation in the secular world. The goal for all was to make a positive difference in someone’s life rather than financial gain.

The children and adults we serve are an inspiration. They are completely dependent on us for assistance in their basic daily living activities yet remind us daily that we need to be like them in many ways. We need to recognize our own weaknesses and trust in others to overcome them. St Paul tells the Corinthians that we walk by faith and not by light. They were a sophisticated people and they needed a reminder that we are to live by faith in the Lord committed to things we cannot see and trust that if we hold onto his values we will prosper with blessings not of this world

Our parents and families inspire us as well. Many are the occasions when I have sat with worried moms and dads in emergency rooms or surgical family waiting areas while a life hung in the balance. These were times when conversations turned to their acceptance of the difficulties they faced as parents of fragile children. They explained how they came to trust in the Lord to guide them through. They truly walk by faith and not by light.

It has been nearly two decades since I began my ministry at Rose-Mary Center. It has truly been a time of unbelievable spiritual growth for me and as I look back on the circumstances that led me here I too recognize the gentle call from above that opened my ears to a greater good.

 -Ray D., Rose-Mary Center Employee

Day 92: Encouragement

As an African American male with an extensive criminal history, I was at my wit’s end trying to find a job.  A friend of mine referred me to Catholic Charities Employment and Training to get assistance with my job-search.  With the help of my case manager, I created a resume and obtained interviewing skills that gave me the confidence I needed to re-enter the workforce.  I must admit it was not an easy journey, I spent countless hours applying for positions but I stayed determined and was constantly encouraged by the Employment & Training Staff.

As a result, I am now working as a warehouseman with a growing company that has opportunities for advancement, competitive wages, and benefits.  I appreciate the time and encouragement the staff gave me and I would never hesitate to refer friends and family for assistance in their job search.


Day 91: Pay it forward

This story came to us from our “Share your Story” page on the blog!  There are only 9 days left to add your story to them mix!

I was received help from Catholic Charities many years ago. I was married 12 years when my husband left. I had 3 small children and no job. Catholic charities helped me by providing me with food $50 gift certificates to Giant Eagle and checked up on me for weeks. My gas had been disconnected and was completely paid and turned back on by people from the St Vincent DePaul Society that they sent out. I will never forget the help that they gave me and I try to pay it forward now. Thank you Catholic Charities.

-Terri S.

Day 90: St. Martin de Porres

The Senior Department at St. Martin de Porres serves up to sixty-five individuals a day. Some attend for the full five-hour program and others just come in to partake in the daily lunch.

A lovely couple came in daily to have lunch. They would converse with the people at their table and leave shortly after. The wife became ill and was hospitalized for an extended length of time. During her stay at the hospital her husband continued to come to the center to have lunch and receive the support of the seniors and staff during his difficult time.

One day, while driving between the center and the hospital the husband was in a car accident. He could no longer drive and had to be admitted to a rehab facility. The staff remained in contact with the family so that the seniors who were eager to know could be kept up to date with the condition of both the husband and wife.

Sadly, the wife passed away not long after. The seniors at the center were quite saddened when they received the news. Center staff made transportation arrangements for those seniors that had the desire to attend the funeral and pay their respects.

One day, the husband called and mentioned he was interested in receiving transportation to and from the center so that he could continue in the lunch program. Arrangements were made and he began to attend the center daily for the five-hour program.

Today, he is still excited to come everyday and has been participating in the exercise classes. He socializes with the other seniors and has commented that he didn’t realize what he had been missing.

What started out as just an opportunity to have lunch amongst peers has turned into a time for socialization and fun. This gentleman takes full advantage of the services offered by the center from the emergency food bag to supportive services in helping him link to other resources in the community. He has expressed his gratefulness for what the senior center has to offer him and the fellowship with staff and seniors. While he misses his wife, he is happy to have his days filled with people to intermingle with and not be home alone.

 -Submitted by Patrica P., St. Martin de Porres

Day 89: John Paul’s Story

This is an email that I recently received from a parent who emailed me about enrolling his son who has autism into our day camp for children with special needs. -From a staff member this past spring when we asked for stories to be shared.

I am both anxious to enroll John Paul and excited for him to be there again. He loves it. He was at St. Eugene’s last summer. I was really impressed with the team there. Let me tell you about one experience. I frequently took John Paul to children’s hospital for therapy and other appointments.

One day at the hospital we were walking through the lobby and come to find the Sum Fun team from St. Eugene’s was there too. We were all surprised to see each other, but what was touching was why they were there. After camp was over for the day, they stopped to see one of their campers who was admitted to the hospital.

That really touched me both then… and as I am writing it now.