(Not So) Lazy Days of Summer

Recreational therapy assistant Mary Eckstein helps Bryan float in St. Mary’s therapy pool.

Twins Brandon and Bryan got a treat today: They spent part of the morning in the pool. The 20-month-old boys arrived at St. Mary’s Home not too long ago for respite, or short-stay, care, and this was the first time they got to go for a dip in the comfortably heated water.

Bryan’s twin, Brandon, with Kathryn Simmons, recreational therapy support specialist. 

While getting in the water is a lot of fun, it’s also therapy. “We are working on their range of motion and sensory stimulation by providing them an experience they don’t typically get,” said Kathryn Simmons, recreational therapy support specialist. “The warm water in the therapy pool helps them loosen up their muscles. That way they can have a greater range of motion in their extremities.”

Mary Eckstein and Colton. 

The pool isn’t just for the littlest children at St. Mary’s Home. Colton, 17, also had the chance to splash around today. And staff of the evening activities and recreational and physical therapy departments frequently work with other children in the pool.

UPDATE: Here’s a video from today’s pool session:

Congratulations, Nancy. We’ll Miss You.

Nancy Mitchell, in yellow, with members of the housekeeping staff at St. Mary’s Home, during today’s party in Mitchell’s honor. 
St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children opened its current building more than five years ago, but the facility still looks and feels brand new. Much of the credit for that, CEO William C. Giermak said today, goes to the hardworking housekeeping staff, supervised by Nancy Mitchell, who is retiring after working for St. Mary’s for 16 years.
“We have really enjoyed working with Nancy over the years,” Giermak said during a luncheon in Mitchell’s honor. “I always felt like Nancy had my back. She was always there to help us, to help things run smoothly.”
Mitchell thanked St. Mary’s for the party, adding, “And I want to thank my coworkers. I’m going to miss you.”
And everyone at St. Mary’s is going to miss Mitchell, one of the people who make St. Mary’s truly feel like home.

A Smashing Good Time

Stephanie Bailey, early intervention technician, left, and Nicole Hoskins Jones, director of recreational therapy, help 20-month-old Bryan create a painting by rolling a rubber ball over a piece of paper covering another piece of paper that was splattered with paint. The activity helps Bryan improve his range of motion. Plus, it’s a lot of fun. 

“How about yellow?” Nicole Hoskins Jones, St. Mary’s director of recreational therapy, asked as she held up a brightly colored bottle of paint.  

“No,” 9-year-old Carrington replied.

“Green?” Jones asked next. 




“Do you like pink?” 

“Yeah!” said Carrington, who then also gave her approval to blue. 

Her colors chosen, Carrington was ready to begin the task at hand: Creating “smash” paintings for potential display at the Fall 2010 Homearama Charity House. Profits from the sale of the house will benefit Carrington and more than 80 other children and young adults who live at St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children.

Twins Brandon and Bryan, 20 months, joined in the fun as first-time Homearamabuilder Scott Crumley visited St. Mary’s today to display the model of his Homearama entry — the Spanish Colonial-style home called “Santa Maria” — and chat with media representatives about the project. The 2,800-square-foot home will feature a courtyard with a pool and outdoor fireplace. 

“The proceeds from the beautiful home Scott is going to build are going to be used to make St. Mary’s Home more beautiful,” said William C. Giermak, St. Mary’s CEO. St. Mary’s will use the funds to redecorate and personalize the children’s bedrooms to make them more inviting and homelike.

William C. Giermak, CEO of St. Mary’s Home, left, and builder Scott Crumley with the model of the Charity House. 
Crumley Group, Inc. needs help from suppliers and subcontractors. To donate materials or labor, contact Jill Woolard, who is following the Charity House project on the Crumley Group blog.\

Read more about today’s event at the blog of The Tidewater Builders Association. Watch a video here:

Digging in the Dirt

Some of the children set to work this afternoon to beautify the bus stop at St. Mary’s Home.

With help from members of the activities staff, the children planted flowers and greenery, using plastic cups to transfer potting soil from bowls to the plant stands.

Afterward, some of the children, like Alex, were a bit dirty, but they all were happy.

St. Mary’s in the Community: Speaking About the Politics of Food

Lynn Earle, director of nutrition services for St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children, will help The League of Women Voters of South Hampton Roads kick off a yearlong look at the politics of food.

Earle will speak this Sunday, June 6, at a get-together at Tabb’s at Riverview restaurant, 4019 Granby Street, Norfolk. The event begins at 3:30 p.m with a business meeting, followed by a social at 4:30 p.m. and a program at 5 p.m. led by Earle and Bev Sell, manager of Five Points Community Farm Market. They will discuss the impact of agribusiness on local farmers, nutritional benefits of locally grown and raised foods and the regulation of food labels. At 6 p.m., there will be a dinner featuring seasonal and locally grown foods.

Tickets are $25. Click here for more information.