St. Joseph's Provides Funds, Volunteers for Local Nonprofits
BY JERALIE ANDREWS
Special to The Pilot
St. Joseph of the Pines (SJP) officials recently took time to reflect upon the past year's generosity to the local community.
In doing so, the organization's increased contributions to several other nonprofit agencies this holiday season was clearly visible.
By embracing them, SJP made it possible for more families and individuals, including many children, to benefit from the services they each provide. In all, 30 causes received some amount of monetary aid.
From the Alzheimer's Association, American Cancer Society and Autism Society, all the way to United Way of Moore County, donations from SJP numbered $128,879. Add the contributions of residents, employees and volunteers and the amount skyrockets to $161, 673.
"This holiday season there is so much joy and laughter among all at St. Joseph of the Pines, but >the associates, volunteers and even many residents and family members oftentimes find themselves somewhat sad," says the Rev. Carl Naylor, direction of mission outreach at St. Joseph. "They recall the death of Sister Mary Zeno. She was the unshakable nun of the Sisters of Providence. She was a source of joy and inspiration, especially at Christmas time, to countless people here at St. Joseph.
"We recall the departure of Sister Mary Zeno and Sister Constance O'Brien to the Mother House. Sister Constance was also a nun who gave 45 years of service to this organization. They are truly missed. Our sadness, however, quickly turns to joy, hope, peace, and love. The true meaning of Christmas was upheld though St. Joseph's benevolence and commitment to its community benefit program."
All totaled for 2009, SJP's support for Sandhills/Moore Coalition for Human Care was $16,570. Its efforts to feed the hungry, clothe the needy and find shelter for the homeless got a boost as SJP's Holiday Food Drive resulted in a $6,670 monetary gift along with many boxes of food being sent to that organization.
A dinner and luncheon intended to raise more money took place at Belle Meade with guest speaker Caroline Helms. That event was compliments of SJP.
As the number of people needing assistance grows each year, so does the need for funding. This adds stress for Coalition officials and staff.
Ken Cormier, president and CEO of SJP, says he is proud the organization stepped up efforts in 2009.
"It is a very important thing to do for the community," he says. "I'm proud of our community benefit commitment and the fact St. Joseph of the Pines does so much."
Friend to Friend
Then there is Friend to Friend, an organization that offers help to all persons affected by domestic violence and sexual abuse. Monies presented to its officials from SJP numbered $8,500.
Its clients enjoyed a Christmas party with all the trimmings at Haven House, along with gifts, through the SJP Community Benefits Program.
A surprise end-of-the-year $7,000 donation from SJP is resulting in a new facelift for the shelter's kitchen.
New bibles for the bedrooms at Haven House were carefully selected by Naylor for the adults and children who find refuge there, and Tony Paz, director of resident services at Belle Meade of St. Joseph of the Pines, is sending some fine furniture its way.
Santa heard the children's wish lists, and two of SJP's certified therapy dogs played with and entertained children and adults alike.
The mission of Friend to Friend is to help build a community in which everyone is free from the threat of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Officials say domestic violence crosses ethnic, racial, age, religious, sexual orientation, national origin and socioeconomic lines. The health-related costs alone of rape, physical assault, stalking and homicide committed by intimate partners exceed $5.8 billion each year, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
"This brings tears to my eyes," says Jeannine Shupp, SJP director of accounting. "It is such a special place. >I am so glad we at St. Joseph are contributing to this organization."
Friend to Friend provides shelter to over 100 women and children for approximately 2,000 days of care. It serves an average of 6,000 meals at Haven House and helps with approximately 120 emergency restraining orders. It provides over 1,000 counseling sessions to victims of violence, and educates over 3,500 students on how to deal with anger and abusive relationships through its Child Assault Prevention Program.
More youngsters can be fed on the weekends through Moore County Schools BackPack Pals.
In addition to continuing to support in a big way the weekly food distribution efforts, St. Joseph made sure backpacks sported new storybooks in one of their compartments on the last day before the holiday break.
SJP purchased more than 700 gender- and age-appropriate storybooks, for a total of $3,200, as Christmas gifts for Moore County elementary school children. Another $5,000 was donated one week before Christmas, bringing the 2009 contribution to $13,200.
This is the second holiday season in a row the organization committed its special support to the local school community, and ensured the children enrolled in the BackPack Pals Program would take home a gift in their backpacks the day they left school to begin the Christmas vacation.
"For me, BackPack Pals is a wonderful way to show how grateful I am to God for the many things he has blessed me with," says Alla Murchison, transportation coordinator for SJP. "By giving just a few hours a month of my time, >I now see how many children I >can help. It is >a pleasure for me to be part of something that is so >meaningful and influential. I thank St. Joseph for allowing me to serve my community in such a positive and needed way."
>The St. Joseph of the Pines Volunteer Services Department fields 19 volunteers throughout the school year to collect, pack up and return to Aberdeen Elementary School and the Moore Charter School tasty but nutritious lunch items.
Each week juice boxes, canned pasta, granola bars, fruit cocktail cups and other surprises get placed in 688 backpacks from these schools.
The young recipients have been identified as not having enough to eat on the weekend. They take the goodies home on Friday and return the empty bags on Monday.
Thursday, the process begins again with volunteers from all over the county converging on the food bank to pack up the items in the knapsacks for the students to take home.
St. Joseph services 34 children attending Aberdeen Elementary and 30 children enrolled in the Academy of Moore.
The collaboration between SJP and BackPack Pals has enjoyed continued success since the departments of mission outreach and volunteer services of SJP held the first annual school supplies drive five years ago.
"I enjoy the fact that the children appreciate what little we do," says Michelle Jones, medical records director of St. Joseph. "They know who we are when we arrive at the school - not by name, but >you can hear them talking among themselves in the hallway.
"When our hands are full with backpacks, it is a child who will hold the door for us to enter when they see our struggle. I think sometimes people lose sight of why they volunteer and look for the 'fame' and 'the pat on the back' of it all. I don't think accolades are needed, especially when children are involved." >
The St. Joseph associates taking part in BackPack Pals under the health care organization's community benefit program say their energies are targeted in a good place because so many children benefit from the food and storybooks.
St. Joseph of the Pines is not the only organization digging deeper this year to help support BackPack Pals.
"Donations are up substantially, and we continue to enjoy support from many businesses, churches and individuals," Hubbard says. "I'm overwhelmed every day by the community's support for the program, especially St. Joseph's additional ingenuity to create a spin-off to the original concept of BackPack pals. Every child in the program received a brand new, wrapped-for-Christmas storybook."
BackPack Pals has come a long way since its inception in 2004. It was instituted five years ago with a donation from St. Joseph of the Pines for 25 children at Aberdeen Elementary School. It has mushroomed to a well-respected endeavor with 21 schools being on the receiving end.
Another $5,000 was placed in Hubbard's hands just before Christmas to show SJP's continued commitment to the program.
Empty Stocking Fund
The Empty Stocking Fund received $5,000 in community benefit dollars from SJP and garnered $8,000 from residents within the St. Joseph of the Pines health system. SJP sponsored 60 families.
"We held wrapping parties and had more than 50 volunteer wrappers," says Lisa Mudd, director of arts and leisure at Belle Meade of St. Joseph of the Pines. "On the SJP associates end, we had at least 25 shoppers and wrappers and a small force of dedicated volunteer drivers to deliver the gifts. Hopefully the families we sponsored had a merry Christmas."
"And so, it is in this season that St. Joseph has followed in the footsteps of the Sisters of Providence by serving those most often ignored by society," says Naylor.
St. Joseph of the Pines is sponsored by the Sisters of Providence and is a member of Catholic Health East. It includes the Health Center, Therapy Village, Belle Meade, the Overlook and Villas at Pine Knoll, Coventry, Providence Place and LIFE.
Jeralie Andrews is the volunteer services director of St. Joseph of the Pines.
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