Experience Making a Difference

Experience Making a Difference

IVC Philadelphia/South Jersey Member Profiles: Mary Noel Hall & Bob Fogarty, Divine Providence Village’s Day Program

by | Jun 14, 2024

Growing up in Bala Cynwyd, Mary Noel Hall and Bob Fogarty didn’t know one another.  They were six years apart in age—a lifetime to a child. However,last fall they each joined IVC and now serve together at Divine Providence Village’s Day Program. Located in the former school of Our Lady of Fatima parish in Secane, PA, the Day Program’s mission is to provide a safe, caring environment that allows individuals with intellectual disabilities to create meaningful and independent lives. There, Mary Noel’s and Bob’s ministries are a great example of how the Ignatian Volunteer Corps can offer a new way to use one’s professional skills OR a chance to explore the road not taken.

Mary Noel came to IVC from a lifelong career in visual art: working for in-house art departments of various organizations and culminating in eight years with Mural Arts Philadelphia. She brought teaching skills from her twelve years as a catechist at Saints Peter & Paul, and a heart for service that goes back to her high school days at Merion Mercy. At Divine Providence, she devises art projects for the participants, working out of the gym and repurposing many of her materials from home. During her time with Mural Arts, she often had to find a way to include students from every grade in painting cafeteria or stairwell murals; this was great preparation for engaging people of varying abilities at the Day Program.

Bob is also using his passion—though not the one that used to pay the bills. A former elementary school teacher, he worked at St. Thomas-Good Counsel and St. Matthias (his alma mater) before spending the next twenty-five years teaching history and religion at Waldron Mercy.  On the side, however, Bob sang and played guitar, even volunteering to entertain in hospital rooms with “Musicians On Call.” Now, he rotates among the eight classrooms at the Day Program, bringing his guitar and an extensive playlist of what young people would consider “oldies” to get each group singing. (Their current favorite? “Sweet Caroline!”) His confidence is growing, he shared, as relationships develop; people are increasingly excited to see him walk in their classroom door again.

Maureen Lewis, the Day Program’s Director, is pleased with the way these two IVC members have enriched the community.  “Mary Noel has been making great art with our participants,” she said.  “She has a nice, easy way with them, and they are excited to help with the large and small art projects. Bob also has been a positive addition to the program.  He will play music and popular songs for our participants, and they love it and sing along.  They both bring something different, but each has such a positive impact.”

Walking down the hallway at the Day Program, I could hear the strains of a guitar coming from one of the classrooms as I paused to gaze at art projects adorning the walls.  This is a special place, filled with even more love and joy because Bob and Mary Noel are using their gifts in such creative ways.

– Regional Advisory Council Member Christine Eberle