Celebrating our Volunteers!
This week is National Volunteer Week. For the past year, we were limited in the amount of time our volunteers could come due to COVID-19, but we wanted to say “Thank You” to those who offer their time to come to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods to help the Sisters of Providence!
We are also highlighting some of our volunteers in this piece to give you a better idea of what it is that they do.
Thank you again for all you do!
The Good Listener
After retiring from her profession as a psychiatric social worker, Judy Houghton had a decision to make. After thinking it over, she decided she wanted to also give back to the Sisters of Providence, who were her teachers in grade school and whose support helped her graduate from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.
Judy also is a former Sister of Providence.
“I’m from New Hampshire,” Judy said. “I wanted to pay them back so I sold my house and came to Terre Haute. I was a Sister of Providence for 17 years.”
She started visiting the Woods again in December of 2019 and immediately began volunteering, helping sisters by driving them to appointments and to the Indianapolis International Airport, among other things.
But when COVID-19 reared its ugly head, Judy wasn’t sure what she could do to help. Then, while visiting the Woods as the Congregation was in lockdown, she realized what she could do.
She started visiting with sisters by their window sill and they would just chat. And Judy did this at least three days a week. Sometimes, she brought her Wheaton Terrier, Angus.
Judy fondly remembers her window chats with many sisters, who enjoyed seeing Angus.
“They loved Angus,” Judy said. “It always made me feel great, but it’s also second nature to me. I was the right person at the right time. And they absolutely love Angus!”
Having the opportunity to see the sisters again, and now the chance to volunteer for the Congregation, is just what Judy felt she needed.
“It’s given me a whole new understanding of things,” Judy said. “I always knew I wanted to do something and give back to them. It’s as simple as that. I love doing what I do.”
When Karen Goehl, PA, was a Providence Associate candidate, she decided she wanted to give back to the Congregation.
“It was for all I was being given and I wanted to continue to learn about the Sisters of Providence and their beautiful home,” Karen said. “I so enjoy every trip to the Woods and wanted to help the Sisters of Providence in whatever way I am able.”
Since she began volunteering for the Congregation, she has helped clean alpaca fleece; baked breads and cookies for various sales; has read during Taizé Prayer services; has helped with tours and much more.
“I have learned so much about the Sisters of Providence just training to be a guide,” Karen said. “I love going to the cemetery and then learning more about all of the sisters and their work while on this earth.”
Her main volunteer role is helping clean the Saint Anne Shell Chapel, a task she helps with at least three times monthly.
“I’ve been doing that activity for about three years,” Karen said. “The chapel is a very special and welcoming place. I enjoy praying with Saint Ann when I’m all through sweeping and dusting!”
Stacy Pierce and Penny Frederick were living in Pennsylvania and felt like something was missing.
“We were discussing what we wanted to do and where we wanted to live once we retired,” Stacy said. “All our conversations kept returning to our volunteer experiences with the Sisters of Providence.”
Stacy said she and Penny moved back to Indiana and started volunteering with the Congregation again, specifically giving their time to Providence Food Pantry in West Terre Haute.
“I have been volunteering with the sisters for more than 10 years,” Stacy said. “I enjoy volunteering with the sisters because there is a need to help others in our community. So much more can be accomplished when I’m working with others rather than just the little bit I can do on my own.”
Stacy said she also volunteers at the White Violet Center Farm Store while serving on the board of The Connecting Link, adding that she and Penny help Sister Dorothy Rasche, SP, the director of The Connecting Link, by picking up furniture and delivering the furniture to those in need.
“I have also been making phone calls for the Congregation’s annual Phonathon for the past several years,” Stacy added. “This year was a little bit different because I didn’t get to gather with the sisters at Providence Hall and make the calls. I missed being with many of the sisters this past year.”
(Editor’s Note: Stacy and Penny are Superstar Callers!)
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Stacy and Penny also helped each year during the White Violet Center Earth Day festival, as well as Christmas Fun at the Woods and Fall Farm Days.
“I am looking forward to when we can get together once again,” Stacy said. “I volunteered with Providence Spirituality & Conference Center giving tours of the grounds as well as inside, including the Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and the Church of the Immaculate Conception.
“One way that I have been volunteering for Providence Food Pantry and The Connecting Link since COVID-19 is posting donated items on Ebay and giving the money to the pantry and The Connecting Link. The money for The Connecting Link is going toward the new Wabash Valley Health Center in West Terre Haute.