ARCHDIOCESE AWARDS IGNATIAN VOLUNTEER 2016 MIRROR OF JUSTICE AWARD
IVC Volunteer Gail Albers was awarded the St. Louis Archdiocese, Mirror of Justice Award. “The woman chosen is a woman who actively works to change systematic injustice and to promote human dignity.” Gail has been instrumental in bringing JustFaith to her parish, has sponsored an “Evening about Christian Social Responsibility” and in January helped recruit parishioners to at
Gail Albers with Kay Clay in St. Cecilia’s library
tend “For the Sake of All”, a presentation on the health and well-being of African Americans in St. Louis. Gail has been a very active parishioner and member of St. Alban Roe parish. She serves as a member of the Stewardship Committee, Knights of Columbus Ladies Auxiliary, a Eucharistic Minister, a weekday Lector and co-chaired of their Gala for Catholic Education.
Gail has been a dedicated member of IVC St. Louis for the past 6 years. She volunteers at St. Cecilia’s elementary school as a tutor and helped establish and grow their library with the assistance of some parishioner friends. In addition, Gail as been a very active and committed member of the IVC community, always willing to pitch in and help when needed.
Congratulations Gail for your generosity and for your many years of serviceand dedication to your parish, to the students and staff at St. Cecilia’s and to your IVC community!
“Inn-Credible” Community Partner Award to Ignatian Volunteer Gerry Hempstead
Each year “Our Lady’s Inn” honors someone from the community who truly makes an impact on the lives of the women residing at Our Lady’s Inn. Ignatian Volunteer Corps member, Gerry Hempstead, was selected as honoree this year at a “Luncheon for Life” benefiting Our Lady’s Inn of St. Charles. Although Gerry said his first week as a volunteer he “felt like a brown pair of shoes in a tuxedo factory”- today he feels more like the “Pied Piper” as children run to greet and follow him when he arrives.
Peggy Forest, Executive Director of Our Lady’s Inn, spoke of the understanding that Gerry offers the moms in their many struggles. “He demonstrates compassion for their pain caused by a lifetime of abuse, and provides them hope for a better future. Gerry brings insight, wisdom, humor and humility to the women of Our Lady’s Inn.”
As an Ignatian Volunteer Gerry helps the moms gain employment, find affordable housing, and navigate the legal system (having been an attorney pre-retirement). There was noteworthy mention of a new funding program called “Over the Hump” that Gerry created and brought to successful fruition this year. This Fund helps some of the women get through those tough periods of transition from being a resident at Our Lady’s Inn to living on their own and caring for their children…no simple task when starting a new job and simultaneously finding housing, transportation and child-care as a single parent!
Gerry graciously accepted the award saying that it is mostly about “just being here…present to the women…listening and gaining their trust.” And certainly the “Over the Hump” funds have made a difference. But over and above all the roles Gerry plays for the women of Our Lady’s Inn, it is the gift of hope that makes the difference. “When the women prepare to move on without all of life’s loose ends tied up neatly, they see some light and trust that miracles can happen down the road.” Gerry concluded his remarks by singing “The Ballad of Our Lady’s Inn” an original composition for this event…a good sense of humor, indeed!
IVC Honored for Role in Middle School’s Success
The Ignatian Volunteer Corps in St. Louis and three of their volunteers were recognized recently for supporting the educational mission of a private middle school that serves fifth- through eighth-graders in north St. Louis.
Ms. Vicki Simon, director of IVC-St. Louis, accepted a Guiding Star Award on behalf of the organization from De La Salle Middle School. From De La Salle’s founding in 2001, it has been housed in the former school building of the Jesuit-sponsored parish, St. Matthew the Apostle, in north St. Louis.
IVC has sent several volunteers to work at the school, starting with Jerry Holden more than five years ago. Rosemary Meyers and Susan Wells-Souza came later once they discovered something special was happening at De La Salle Middle School.
The IVC volunteers have described their service time at De La Salle as inspiring for the lives and neighborhoods that are changed for the better. They also said their experience there was “exhausting, exhilarating, challenging, rewarding and humbling.”
The Ignatian Volunteer Corps is a Jesuit-sponsored organization of retired men and women who strive to grow in faith through service to others. In St. Louis, the volunteers commit two days a week of service with partner social service agencies and schools throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area.
Simon said the IVC and De La Salle Academy were an especially good partnership because they share the values of faith, service, community and care.
Simon was tapped as IVC director earlier this year after spending a year as an Ignatian Volunteer following her retirement as director of social ministry for St. Francis Xavier (College) Church, the Jesuit parish of Saint Louis University.
She has been a teacher, worked in the corporate sector and in academia, and served in Kenya as a Maryknoll lay missioner. She serves on the board of various institutions in St. Louis.