By Cathy Thoma, Director of Volunteer Resources
The universe works in mysterious ways. At least it does for Mary Bradley. About five years ago, Mary (holding tray of cookies above) was watching a movie with a lead character who had Down syndrome. Mary had a sudden, strong feeling that she was meant to volunteer with individuals with developmental disabilities. Only she didn’t know how to get started. Then a year ago, she was sorting through the mail at work and came across an invitation to an event from NER. Mary checked out the website, sent an email to inquire about volunteering, and immediately got a response. The rest is history!
Mary has been volunteering with the women at our east metro County Road F home for the past year. She visits with them every other week to do a variety of activities. These include playing games and making arts and crafts. Sometimes they all sit outside by the firepit and just chat. As a former pastry chef, Mary helps guide them while baking seasonal cookies and desserts. The women are very proud of how delicious their baked goods turn out.
One evening, Mary stopped by the house to say hello and was persuaded to stay and watch “Dancing with the Stars.” One of the women, Linda, happens to be a big fan of the show, and now Mary is too! Over the holidays last year, Mary went with the women and staff to see the scary Halloween house next door. Then they went for a ride to see the holiday lights. Whatever they want to do, Mary is there for them. She feels that the best part of volunteering is just getting to be with the women of the County Road F home.
“I love them,” Mary says. “I know it sounds sappy, but I do. We bonded almost instantly and have become good friends.”
The women at County Road F feel the same way. “She is fun,” “she is a good baker,” “she helps me to cook,” “I like when she plays games with us,” “she likes me and she is kind to us,” and “I am happy when it is a Mary Monday,” are some of the comments we’ve heard.
The home’s Program Manager, Jeanne Ottman, says she appreciates Mary’s time and her wonderful ways with the ladies. “I know she makes each of them feel special,” she says.
When asked what she would say to someone considering volunteering with us, Mary said, “Just do it! The individuals you meet have so much to say and so much love to share.”
Thank you, Mary, for making “Mary Mondays” so special.