Aidan, Braeden and other kids proved you can’t have too many cooks in the kitchen when they spent several hours on a January day with volunteers from PRA Group, a big supporter of St. Mary’s Home. They whipped up a cake using adaptive equipment, such as a large switch attached to a mixer, as well as the helping hands of the volunteers. They also enjoyed arts and crafts time.

Our friends from Sertoma Club of Norfolk visited the Home and brought $5,000 for a bed that can be easily raised or lowered. Sertoma, which meets community needs through volunteer service, has supported St. Mary’s for several generations and has donated more than $40,000 to the Home in the last decade. Thank you, Sertoma!

Thank you to Priority Automotive for donating $10,000 to St. Mary’s Home on behalf of the Priority Charity Bowl football game. We really appreciate you making our kids – like Jackson, Latrell and Braeden – your priority!

We are so grateful for our many generous supporters, who think not only of the kids who live here but also bring gifts for their families. Thank you to Douglas Werner and Cubs for Christmas, a group of friends who get together at Build-a-Bear to make bears to give to kids over the holidays. They donated 20 Build-A-Bears for our social workers to hand out to the kids’ siblings.

Susan B. Potter of Virginia Beach bought just one ticket for our Auxiliary’s annual car raffle. It turned out to be the lucky ticket drawn at the Auxiliary’s 10th annual Gala and Auction. A few days after she picked up the car, the red Jetta was sporting a new license plate: THX ST M. Thank you, Susan, and to everyone who purchased tickets to support our kids. And thank you to Checkered Flag Volkswagen & Hyundai for donating the car.

Defense contractor Valkyrie Enterprises, LLC supports the Hampton Roads community through philanthropy. To mark the completion of Valkyrie’s $10,000 gift to The Albero House, St. Mary’s presented Valkyrie President and CEO Gary Lisota with a special token of gratitude: a colorful piece of  “smash art” made by a family friend, 14-year-old Aidan, who lives at the Home.

Helping kids with science projects, disassembling wheelchairs for needed parts, washing transport vehicles and cutting out plastic patterns for our physical therapy department were just some of the things our energetic volunteers from the local offices of PBMares, LLP did when they spent their CPA Day of Service with us. They also got the raised beds ready for planting in The Albero House courtyard and helped organize the children’s art to send to their families. Whew!

Chris and Martin Kratt of the popular PBS Kids TV show “Wild Kratts” stopped by St. Mary’s before heading to Norfolk’s Chrysler Hall for a performance of “Wild Kratts Live” in November. The brothers chatted with kids and handed out autographed photos. Special thanks to Haley’s mom, pictured here with Haley and the Kratts, for arranging the visit.

Thank you to Children’s Specialty Group and The Camp Family Foundations for returning as sponsors of our Friday Forums series of free public talks. Frank Aiello III, M.D. launched the 2015 series with a talk about the benefits of an infant and toddler program. Joining him were Nicole Hoskins Jones, CTRS, St. Mary’s director of recreational therapy, and Erin Vicinski, our early intervention technician. Later, Katrina M. Lesher, M.D. spoke about using technology to maximize independence, and Ynez Peterson, OTR/L, assistive technology specialist for the SECEP REACH Program, reviewed how to select toys to create independence and stir children’s imaginations. .

Isaiah and Jorge had a great time at the Children’s Museum of Virginia in Portsmouth with members of Chartway’s We Promise Foundation and Camp Horizon staff. They were among 16 children and young adults from St. Mary’s who were able to attend Camp Horizon, a program of the The Up Center, over the summer because of a generous $25,000 gift from the We Promise Foundation, the charitable arm of Chartway Federal Credit Union.

Holiday festivities got a rockin’ start with the annual Christmas party our good friends from the Kerneos company threw in our Atrium for the children and young adults, like T.J., plus staff. As always, there was lots of great food, gifts and dancing – even a conga line!

When two big snow-storms struck Hampton Roads, many staff members voluntarily spent the night during the bad weather, sleeping on mats on classroom floors and pulling double shifts to make sure the children and young adults continued to get the care they need. Other employees with sturdy vehicles picked up their colleagues who did not have access to transportation. Their dedication caught the attention of WVEC-TV reporter Joe Flanagan. Thank you to our amazing staff!

St. Mary’s medical director, Dr. Joseph Toland, here with Kishaun, was named one of Inside Business magazine’s “HealthCare Heroes” for 2015. Thank you, Dr. Toland, for being the kind of pediatrician who will do anything to help a sick child, from checking on patients when they go to the emergency room to visiting a child at home if the child can’t come to the office.

Vroommm, vroommm! Isaiah and Brandon visited with members of the Southside chapter of the Iron Order Motorcycle Club, which .raised $4,000 during a charity run to support the children and young adults.

Zach got to take a little break from class to meet Richard Serpe of the Law Offices of Richard Serpe PC. Thank you to the law firm for making a $700 gift to St. Mary’s – $5 for each new like on its Facebook page over the summer. That was 140 likes. And thank you to everyone who participated and helped spread the word!

Thank you so much to Renaissance Movement Music for visiting with some of the kids and young adults. Jorge, at left, showed off his rapping skills for them and asked them to help him make his first album!

What a generous – and fit – group! Thank you to Team Checkered Flag Volkswagen for raising more than $7,000 for our kids while training for the Shamrock Half Marathon. Brandon was there to greet them when they stopped by St. Mary’s to present a check. Special thanks to Todd Collins, then-general manager of Checkered Flag Volkswagen & Hyundai, (back row, far left) for organizing this effort.

Jenny and other kids had such a fun day participating in a community dog walk and enjoying food, music and activities for kids and dogs! The “Walking with the Wolfhounds” event at Saint Patrick Catholic School benefited St. Mary’s as well as other charities.

When Melina and Katie visited Dickens’ Christmas Towne at Nauticus in downtown Norfolk, a stranger stepped up to pay for their photo with Father Christmas. Thank you for sharing the holiday spirit! The act of kindness was featured in the “How Nice” column of The Virginian-Pilot newspaper.

Jorge and T.J. were on hand to greet visitors from Centura College. Dennis Ryan, assistant director, and Denise Hayes, business program coordinator, presented St. Mary’s with funds raised during the school’s Motor Madness Car and Bike Show. Carla Johnson, a direct support professional at St. Mary’s and a Centura student, came up with the idea for the car and bike show and worked very hard on it.

The kids enjoyed “The Princess and the Pea” when members of The Virginia Opera came to St. Mary’s on a February afternoon. Thank you to the performers for sharing your talents, and thank you to The Auxiliary Board of St. Mary’s for sponsoring this event.

Families and friends indulged in decadent delights during “Dive into Desserts” at St. Mary’s on Aug. 30. They also helped chalk the sidewalk with art and decorated crafts with children from St. Mary’s. Thank you to St. Mary’s Kid2Kid youth volunteer group for organizing the event, which raised $1,300 to support outings and activities.

Our friends from the Ocean View Women’s Golf Association visited with a $3,000 check – proceeds from their Mermaid Invitational Golf Tournament in June. They have raised more than $20,000 for St. Mary’s from annual tournaments since 2008. We are so grateful to have their support!

Suzy Kelly, one of our good friends and CEO of Jo-Kell Inc. in Chesapeake, dropped by around the holidays to present St. Mary’s with a fantastic gift of nearly $17,000. We can’t thank Jo-Kell enough for the company’s ongoing generosity!

Ho, ho, ho! The holidays especially bring out the generosity of our many wonderful supporters, including the Norfolk District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who were among many groups that delivered presents for our kids and young adults!

Families came to St. Mary’s on a warm June day to join their children and our staff at an end-of-the-school-year cookout. Special thanks to Lynn Earle, dietitian and director of food services, who was instrumental in preparing food for everyone to enjoy; that’s Lynn at left with Itina Spellman of PRA Group. Thank you also to our amazing volunteers from CarMax in Virginia Beach and PRA Group, who worked hard to help with the grilling and serving.

Adrian took a break from playing in a bounce house to greet our good friends from Beach Ambassadors. The group’s Battle of the Beers event in October raised $10,500 for our kids and young adults! Beach Ambassadors have volunteered at St. Mary’s, helping children swim in a therapy pool, assisting with therapy dogs at the Home and decorating for a fall festival.

We were delighted to receive a $1,750 donation from the Staff Officers’ Mess at NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Transformation headquarters. That was their seventh December donation in a row. We’re so thankful for their ongoing generosity!

Colton and some of the other young adults who live at The Albero House teamed up with a couple of Norfolk Admirals players, Louis Leblanc, left, and Antoine Laganiere, right, to play a Wii hockey game, as Shirley Justice, St. Mary’s then community liaison, cheered them on. The players also visited with other children and young adults and signed memorabilia. Three days later, on Feb. 14, Jorge and Aidan took part in the ceremonial puck drop at an Admirals’ game.

Thank you to everyone who donated during the 24-hour Give Local 757 fundraising event in May. You helped raise more than $2,000 for our kids and young adults, like Aly, Lauren and Josh, and were part of something special that raised nearly $400,000 for more than 160 nonprofits in the Hampton Road community.

Children and young adults enjoyed a Field Day for the United Way of South Hampton Roads Day of Caring on Sept. 11. The kids played games and got fake tattoos and manicures as Brandon spun tunes in our Atrium. Many thanks to our volunteers from the City of Norfolk and the middle school at Norfolk Academy for making this event so much fun, and to Norfolk City Manager Marcus Jones and Deputy City Manager Wynter Benda, who stopped by to check in on Field Day and chat with Joe Younkin and other city volunteers. Watch a “Norfolk News Now” story about Day of Caring at St. Mary’s.

Terry Lyle, principal of the SECEP REACH program, which runs the school at St. Mary’s, was among eight Community Champions who were honored at the Champions for Children luncheon in October. Terry (pictured with Virginia Lt. Gov. Dr. Ralph Northam, keynote speaker at the awards ceremony and a longtime friend of the Home) was nominated in the education category by a parent of a student at The Williams School who volunteers at St. Mary’s Home. Watch a short video interview with Terry.

These adorable snowmen were created by members of the International Interior Design Association – Virginia/West Virginia Chapter. We were invited to attend their holiday party, where we had the pleasure (and challenge!) of judging these creations and collecting gifts that their members brought for our kids!