Through endless acts of kindness, generosity and service, our volunteers carry forward our mission of serving all in need. During this very special week, we take time to celebrate YOU. When you give of your time and talents in the spirit of St. Francis, your gift to others truly makes a difference.
Together with St. Clare of Assisi we pray that God will continue to bless you.

Blessing of St. Clare
May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May he show his face to you and be merciful to you.
May he turn his countenance to you and give you peace.

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Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.
Sherry Anderson
Volunteers are love in motion!
Author Unknown
Love cannot remain by itself — it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action, and that action is service.
Mother Teresa
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Meet Some of Our Volunteers

Join us as we celebrate our volunteers from April 12 – 18. Be sure to check the website for daily stories celebrating our volunteers and their service.

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It’s Tuesday at 4 p.m. and there’s a bit of excitement and anticipation in the air at the sisters’ Mount Alvernia health care center in Millvale, Pennsylvania. Soon a weekly visitor will arrive. But this is no ordinary visitor, instead it is a curly-haired golden labradoodle!

Every week Judith Reigelnegg brings one of her therapy dogs, Macey or Millie, to visit the sisters. Judy and her husband Jeff have had the dogs trained as therapy dogs, and they have been visiting the sisters at Mount Alvernia for three years.

Macey and Millie are quite comfortable offering their paws to shake hands and allowing the sisters to pet and play with them. Although Millie has physical problems, including poor vision and hearing, she recognizes individuals by smell, and is most loving and endearing. When she reaches a wheelchair, she waits for help from Judy to get her paws up on the arm of the chair so the sister can easily see and pet her.

Macey seems to love it when Judy brings a toy and allows her to show off her “high jumps” and retrieving abilities.

Judy and Jeff have brought much pleasure and laughter to the sisters through Macey and Millie. We are grateful to them for sharing their wonderful dogs with us.

Photo (left)
Volunteer Judith Reigelnegg with her therapy dogs.

Photo (right)
One of the therapy dogs visits with Sister Patricia Garrigan.

Kopecky
For years, Richard and Roxanne Kopecky have supported our sisters with time, talent and treasure.
Roxanne, a native of Western New York, knows the sisters through her aunt, Sister Marian Rose Mansius, or “Aunt Shirley” as Roxanne calls her. Roxanne met her husband Richard while they were both at the State University of New York at Buffalo. In 1977, they moved to Syracuse, where they raised their family and still live today.

Their remarkable involvement with our sisters is not limited to one region. Roxanne’s family provided the funding for the Community Room in the Sacred Heart Health Center in Williamsville. In addition, the couple recently made a leadership gift that sponsored a regional minister office and a sister bedroom at Franciscan Villa in Syracuse. They are generous annual gift givers and regularly attend many special events including our 150th anniversary celebration in Buffalo and Fairway to Heaven Golf Tournament and Eat Drink Pray in Syracuse.

Along with their treasure, Roxanne and Richard generously share their time and talents with the sisters as well. Roxanne enjoys volunteering at NunBetter Chocolates in the Franciscan Villa, and serves on the Ladies Auxiliary at Francis House in Syracuse. Richard also manages to find time in his busy schedule to sing in the choir at Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church in DeWitt, a suburb of Syracuse.

“We believe so much in the sisters’ mission,” says Roxanne. “We know our gifts are going to be put to good use, and will help the sick, the poor and needy. The sisters are so pure, and they are such an important part of our lives. We are happy to support them.”

“For where treasure is, there also will your heart be.” – Matthew 6:21

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Think of college spring break and images of beaches and parties come to mind. But for 18 students from two Pennsylvania colleges, spring break March 2015 meant preparing food for Pittsburgh’s homeless community, and bringing joy to people with disabilities.

Eight students from King’s College in Wilkes-Barre and ten students from Marywood College in Scranton spent their spring break volunteering through a weeklong alternative spring break trips program sponsored by the Change A Heart Franciscan Volunteer Program of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities. Change A Heart’s primary program gives young adults the opportunity to learn more about the Franciscan way of life while serving adults and children in need at more than 40 social service organizations over a one year period.

Along with serving adults and children in need, the eight King’s College students used their technology skills to rebuild computers from parts salvaged from old computers. Non-profit organizations in the Pittsburgh area received the recycled machines.

The group also served at Casa San Jose, a community resource center sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden, that welcomes Latino immigrants to their Pittsburgh neighborhoods and links them with service providers and other resources to advance their integration.

Here, volunteers met Change A Heart volunteer program member Tracy Medrano and helped her care for children in the afterschool program.

“This week has been extremely and genuinely amazing,” said one King’s College student. “As we went through the week and helped out with various organizations, it seems that we took away so much more than we put in.”

The students from Marywood College spent the week of March 7 at the sisters’ Mount Alvernia campus. Caring for nature was a unique component of their week as they helped beautify the land in Pittsburgh’s downtown and community parks.

“This week, I did not just change people’s lives, they changed mine,” exclaimed a student from Marywood College. “Everything we did was an eye opening experience. Each person I met brought more understanding and brought me closer to God. … A piece of my heart will always be left in Pittsburgh.”

Kings College Photo (right)
Row one, from left: Minnie Novas, student leader, Alex Russo, Ellie Cabrera, Max Rodrigues
Row two, from left: Maria Glenn, staff leader; Michael Cipriani; Jessica Lange; Spoorthy Challa; Brittany Czerniakowski, student leader
Row three, from left: Father Chase Pepper, staff leader

Marywood University Photo (left)
Row one, from left: Alyssa Wood, Jackie Martilla
Row two, from left: Gina Morgese, Deanna Cavallaro, Danielle Plunkett
Row three, from left: Veronica Smith; Christopher Morrison; Kelsey Deem; Joseph Mauceri; Mary Roche, staff; Quintin Klenchik; Katie Cicilioni, staff

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For two days in February, Ben Suiso and Felice Brault trimmed bushes, filled ditches with dirt and took a weed whacker to overgrown grass. But the work wasn’t being done in their home yards. Ben, a retired fire fighter and Felice, a retired school teacher, rolled up their sleeves and volunteered their time to clean up around the convent/chapel and Saint Marianne Cope’s grave in Kalaupapa, Hawaii.

Kalaupapa National Historical Park was established in 1980 and depends on volunteers like Ben and Felice to help keep the grounds around St. Elizabeth Convent and Mother’s grave manicured. Ben took part because he wanted to see firsthand “a part of history.” The visit left him “very impressed” about how much the sisters of St. Francis gave to help the patients with Hansen’s disease (leprosy). “They did an incredible job especially considering the times,” he said.

Felice, who worked and developed an intergenerational program at St. Francis Hospital in Honolulu in the 1980’s and introduced her neighbor Ben to the sisters, said “It’s a privilege in enhancing the grounds where Saint Marianne and her Franciscan Sisters ministered to the poorest of the poor–sharing in the preservation of the dignity of place and people of Kalaupapa.”

FIA

Two Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities along with four volunteers traveled to David, Kentucky this past summer to provide home repairs for people in need through the sisters Franciscans in Action (FIA) program.

Cheryl Wagner of Glenshaw, Pennsylvania said she had been looking for a meaningful way to serve others. She eventually learned about the program while reading her church bulletin. She said it was an opportunity to “serve people as Jesus did, by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and sheltering the homeless.”

Together, the six women focused on building a home for Sandy, a single woman whose house was in such bad repair that nothing could be salvaged. Sandy watched with excitement as the group laid floors, trimmed windows and doors, cut countertops, hung doors and painted. “The best part of the week was knowing that we were making a difference for a woman in need – and not just ‘a woman,’ but a person, Sandy,” said Sister Ann Bremmer, pastoral associate at Sts. John and Paul Parish in Sewickley, Pennsylvania.

In addition to working together, group members prepared meals for one another and prayed with and for each other. “The Lord was present with us in every aspect of the time we spent there,” said Cheryl. “Whether it was in the prayers we shared each morning and evening, the work we did on the project, or the time we spent just getting to know one another.”

For more than two decades, FIA has served the poor in Appalachia beginning in Manchester, Ohio and continuing today through the volunteer program of St. Vincent’s Mission in David which hosts groups of people from across the nation. For more information, please contact Sister Karen Krebs at 412.965.1247, kkrebs@sosf.org, or visit www.sosf.org.

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