Holiday Volunteering at Misericordia
by Barb Quaintance
The holidays are a magical time at Misericordia. The decorations, the music, the sweet smells coming from the bakery, the holiday brunches, the excited residents. A very important part of making the magic happen are the volunteers who give their time and talent to Misericordia.
Did you know…
- So far this year, volunteers have signed up for over 2500 shifts in the bakery.
- The bakery welcomes not only individual volunteers, but groups: corporate groups, school groups, clubs such as the German American Singers, Gays for Good, the Parrotheads (a Jimmy Buffet fan club) and many others. Many Misericordia neighbors also volunteer.
- On the busiest day of the year, the bakery will ship out 1400 holiday gifts, thanks to the work of the bakery staff (permanent and seasonal), volunteers and residents who have meaningful vocational training there. Think about it: that’s close to two full UPS trucks!
- During the three holiday brunches in December, almost 100 volunteers join the fun. Administrative staff also volunteer and, in fact, some retired directors come back to help.
- At the brunches, there are kids selling raffle tickets, people cleaning up, others helping with coat check, while still others pour coffee, run to the dish room and serve champagne. It takes all of those volunteers to serve the 1100 people who will come to the two largest brunches.
- Many volunteers also decorate the campus—and that’s a lot of decorating! Still other volunteers work in the holiday gift shops.
by Barb Quaintance
Basketball. Bowling. Track and field. Softball. Aquatics. Soccer. Floor hockey. Volleyball. Bocce. Rhythmic gymnastics. Golf. Snowshoeing. Powerlifting. Tennis. MATP (Motor Activities Training Program).
Whew! Those are the Special Olympic sports in which Misericordia athletes participate. Some are team sports, some are individual sports, but they are all very special for these special athletes.
The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics gives them ongoing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with other Special Olympians and their families. Athletes must be eight years or older and have an intellectual disability. There is no upper age limit. Wheelchair athletes also participate in sports such as track-and-field, bocce, wheelchair racing and bowling.
Creations from the Heart
by Jim Varey
My wife, Lenore, and I along with Mary Jo Gallaher and Bob & Bonnie Romniak are team leaders for the Creations from the Heart booth at Family Fest. In the past, you knew the booth as The Gentle Touch. Our booth sells beautiful handmade or handcrafted articles; it’s a very popular stop at Family Fest.
Traditionally, Creations from the Heart booth sold items such as afghans, blankets, quilted hats and more. For the past two years, we’ve added items such as bird houses, hot plates/cutting boards, ornaments, and other wooden holiday decorations. It’s a wonderful potpourri of creativity.
Meet Bob and Madge
by Linda Buchalo
If you have a family member at Misericordia, or if you’ve spent some time on campus, you most likely have heard of Bob and Madge. Maybe you don’t know their last name or exactly what they do, but you probably know them by sight, and you know they have something to do with music.
Bob and Madge Erlenbaugh are long-time volunteers at Misericordia, and wherever you see them, voices will be raised in song. This amazing duo started volunteering for Misericordia in 1983, collecting donations for Candy Days. They continued to help at Candy Days, but a few years later increased their volunteer efforts when one of their daughters worked at a special recreation summer camp that served 20 Misericordia residents. During that time, Bob was teaching guitar and leading a choir group. He brought his group to perform at Misericordia, eventually singing on the Children’s Stage at Family Fest. It was this activity that first brought Lou Manfredini to Misericordia; Lou’s children and Bob and Madge’s grandchildren were friends. Thank you, Bob and Madge, and thank you, Lou! Bob and Madge continued to help at the Fest in other ways, and Bob brought members of the volleyball team that he coached to help as well.
The 2023 Artist in All
by Lisa Paradis
The Misericordia Siblings Organization has done it again! The Artist in All was an amazing success and continues to be a Top Five Fundraiser for Misericordia, raising $950k this year. It takes an army of volunteers, our talented Art Instructors led by Julie O’Sullivan, generous Sponsors and the stunning Artwork our brothers and sisters have on display for an evening at a world-class venue, the Art Institute of Chicago..
Caitlin Deptula led the event as the Chairwoman with the support of Megan Biggam, SIBS Board President, in addition to Lois Gates, Anne Mills, Julie O’Sullivan, and the entire SIBS Board. Over 1,000 attended a mid-summer night at the Art Institute of Chicago. With 246 pieces of artwork and 235 residents participating, our brothers and sisters continue to outdo themselves, with the guidance of their talented art teachers. The artwork alone raised more than $125K this year.
Reflections on Misericordia from Father Jack
by Barb Quaintance
If you’re ever in the Misericordia’s administrative offices between 6-7am, you may well see Father Jack working at his desk. Since becoming Executive Director about two years ago, Father Jack has valued this quiet time before the rush of the day begins. He says that the biggest change he’s faced as Executive Director is that now he’s asked about everything by just about everyone.
Of course, Father Jack was at Misericordia for 22 years before becoming Executive Director and was responsible for many of Mis’ operations. In his new role, his mission is not only to ensure that Mis runs smoothly and efficiently, but to help staff see the big picture; i.e. to see how interdependent the various departments and functions are. One of Father Jack’s priorities has been to build a strong leadership team. He has expanded the team with several new Vice Presidents and Assistant Vice Presidents (AVPs), with several more AVPs and Directors to be hired. Father Jack believes that the “perfect” leadership team is one that combines long-term employees—who have been dedicated to Mis and have deep knowledge of how things work—with new people who can bring fresh perspectives and new ideas. Father Jack also believes it’s his role to ask questions: Is this the best way to do something? Could we do it in a new or different way?
Geana Connelly’s New Role - VP of Strategy, People & Culture
by Lisa Masucci
Continuing the series of profiles on Misericordia’s new leadership team, today we feature Geana Connelly, recently appointed to the position of Vice President of Strategy, People & Culture. After 30 years at Misericordia, Geana has the experience and relationships needed for this important new role.
Many of you may not know that Geana grew up on a farm in a small town in north central Wisconsin, the youngest of five children. Her interest in individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities started in high school when she volunteered in a special education classroom. She went to St. Norbert College in De Pere, WI and studied psychology. While she was in college, Geana’s niece was born with Down syndrome, which further deepened her desire to work with the population that she has come to love and admire her entire professional career.
Art Therapy: A Path to Healing
by Barb Quaintance
We all know that Misericordia takes excellent care of the residents’ physical and health needs, but Mis is equally focused on their mental and spiritual well-being. One of the counseling techniques used to address that well-being is art therapy. Misericordia’s Art Therapists, Miriam Hudson and Sarah Peters, work within the counseling department led by Geana Connelly. Miriam and Sarah work with residents across campus and in the CILAs. To become a practicing art therapist, one must pursue a Masters in Art Therapy which includes 1500 hours of direct client contact through internships, as well as a rigorous course load, and a focus on self-reflection. After receiving a Masters, they work toward licensure as an art therapist and/or counselor by passing an exam and completing 2000 hours under supervision. These talented therapists bring a special creativity and empathy to their interactions with the residents.
Meet Chris Hegg-Krackenberger, Vice-President of Residential Services
by Ann Wilson
Under the auspices of Fr. Jack Clair, Misericordia’s Administrative Team has gone through a restructuring. In October 2022, long-time employee Chris Hegg-Krackenberger was promoted to Vice President of Residential Services.
Introduced to Misericordia in the summer between her sophomore and junior years of college, Chris says, “I worked in a program called ‘Summer Service Learning’ which involved an 8-week volunteer commitment at a non-profit. Misericordia was one of 200 sites across the country, and I felt called to choose this site and loved it! I came back to Misericordia after I graduated in the Summer of 1991. I was not planning on staying long, but I really fell in love with the work I was doing, the residents I worked with, and the people I worked alongside. I decided to stay and here I am almost 32 years later.”
Father Bart Winters Joins the Misericordia Ministry Team
by Ann Wilson
Since Father Jack Clair took on the responsibilities as President/Executive Director of Misericordia Home, he found he had less time for his ministry duties. Consequently, Misericordia welcomed Father Bart Winters to its Ministry Team in April 2022. In addition to collaborating with Andrew Blomquist and Kathy Morris in Ministry, Fr. Bart also works with Bob Myers in promoting the mission and values of Misericordia among its dedicated staff.
On any given day, Fr. Bart may meet with small groups and participate in spirit-sessions. He is delighted and grateful to be a part of this community. Fr. Bart says, “Misericordia truly is a sacred place where God’s presence is tangible and real.” But how did he find himself at Misericordia?
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