Happy Hauntings at St. Mary’s Home

Folks at St. Mary’s Home tend to take holidays very, very seriously, and Halloween is no exception. This year, the celebration on “Spooky Friday” was bigger than ever, filled with fun and educational activities.


Staff competed — fiercely — in a contest to decorate all four of the children’s living areas, turning the neighborhoods into a 50s diner, a haunted house, Alice’s Wonderland and Oz, complete with a yellow brick road.

Children, staff and teachers dressed up in costumes and paraded about the Home, an annual tradition organized by SECEP. St. Mary’s Home partners with Southeastern Cooperative Educational Programs to provide individualized education programs for residents. SECEP’s REACH (Raising Expectations and Abilities for Children with Complex Health needs) Program offers educational services to students with severe to profound disabilities who live at St. Mary’s Home.

Also Friday, children took part in sensory activities, such as carving pumpkins and touching “guts” that just may have been spaghetti, with help from St. Mary’s evening activities staff.

New this year: Children used adaptive switches to plug into SECEP’s Spooky Room so they could independently activate games, lights and a slideshow with spooky pictures and sounds.

WVEC-TV, Norfolk’s ABC affiliate, covered some of the goings-on. Victoria asked reporter Joe Flanagan to pose with her for a photo, and he graciously obliged.

Free Workshops: Experiencing Trauma in Childhood


Old Dominion University is hosting a free, three-part series of workshops on “Experiencing Trauma in Childhood: Personal and Social Effects and What Individuals and Communities Can Do to Prevent It and Help Those Who Suffer.”

Part One is coming up on Tuesday, Nov. 10, and features Dr. Judith L. Herman, author of the book “Trauma and Recovery” and clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. The live video conference will take place 7-8:30 p.m. in the Hampton/Newport News Room at ODU’s Webb Center.

Dr. John Briere will speak at the second workshop, on Thursday, Feb. 18, from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Hampton/Newport News Room at the Webb Center. Briere is an associate professor of psychiatry and psychology at Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, and a member of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

Wrapping up the series, Dr. Bruce Perry will speak on Wednesday, March 3, from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Webb Center’s North Cafeteria. Perry is a senior fellow at the Child Trauma Academy and author of “The Boy Who Grew Up as a Dog: What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us about Loss, Love and Healing.”

The series is sponsored by In Support of Children, a nonprofit student service organization at ODU; Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters; Prevent Child Abuse Hampton Roads; and Kohl’s.

And Here She Is




As residents, staff, Board members, Auxiliary Board members and other supporters gathered outside St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children this afternoon, a vehicle appeared in the distance.

Ron Herrick and Tom Dvorak from St. Mary’s maintenance department carefully removed the precious cargo from the trailer, then helped artist Georgia Mason unwrap her creation: a mermaid for the children and young adults of SMHDC.

The mermaid was unveiled Saturday at St. Mary’s donor reception off site. Mason then delivered her to St. Mary’s today. The mermaid statue will be permanently installed just outside the front entrance of the building, for residents and visitors to enjoy.

The Mermaid is Coming to St. Mary’s

St. Mary’s mermaid is almost here. In fact, she will arrive on Monday.

But … she needs a name.

Come up with the perfect moniker for this lovely creature of the sea and you’ll win a copy of “There Goes a Mermaid!” by Norfolk author Lisa Suhay and a St. Mary’s tote bag filled with goodies.

Fill out a ballot at St. Mary’s front desk, or send an email with your name, address, phone number and suggested name for the mermaid to sbarisic@smhdc.org. Deadline is end of the day, Sunday, Nov. 8. The winning name will be announced during the Family Forum at St. Mary’s Home on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Employees, families, friends, supporters — everyone is invited to name the mermaid.

To learn more about the mermaid, click here.

Running for a Good Reason

Ready to start the 5K. (photo by Kathy Brobst)

One-Mile Fun Run finishers, with “Rocket Man,” who warmed up the kids before the race.
(photo by Kathy Brobst)


More than 400 runners, walkers, volunteers and supporters turned out at Fort Story today for the 21st Annual St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children 5K, plus One-Mile Fun Run.

This was the second year the event was at the Virginia Beach base. The event raises money to support the programs and services of the Home, which cares for 88 children and young adults with severe disabilities. Last year’s race raised more than $16,000, and this year’s 5K was on track to raise even more.

In addition, during the race awards ceremony, Team Hoyt VB presented the Home with a check for $10,000 — which the team raised for St. Mary’s during the 2009 Rock ‘n’ 1/2 Marathon at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront over Labor Day weekend. Team Hoyt runs with people with disabilities, using jogger strollers.

Thank you to everyone for making today a success. Your generosity is astounding.

For race results, see the Tidewater Striders’ website.