“Your Smiles Are Kisses to Our Souls”

LPN students from Riverside School of Health Careers' School of Practical Nursing present a certificate representing a paver that the 2012 LPN class purchased to be installed at St. Mary's Home. From left, student Joan Forbes, student Melena Mims, instructor Sierra Funk, class President Jenny Hart and St. Mary's CEO William C. Giermak.

When the students in the 2012 LPN class at Riverside School of Health Careers’ School of Practical Nursing began holding bake sales and car washes earlier this year, they didn’t know what they would do with the funds they collected. Then, they came to St. Mary’s Home for a clinical rotation and they were inspired to purchase a paver as a way to support St. Mary’s and give thanks for their learning experiences here. “We met some amazing kids and staff,” said Jenny Hart, class president.

Hart and fellow students Joan Forbes and Melena Mims, with instructors Sierra Funk and Susan Brown, returned to St. Mary’s on Nov. 5 to present a framed certificate with the names of all of the LPN students and the inscription to be engraved on the paver: “Your Smiles Are Kisses to Our Souls.”

St. Mary’s CEO WIlliam C. Giermak, Chief Nursing Officer Grace Jabon, RN, and Director of Staff Development Susan Kok, RN, thanked the students for their generosity and service. “We love having students here,” Giermak told them.

The students’ paver will be placed in the brick walkway at St. Mary’s main entrance. Pavers engraved with a loved one’s name or a sentiment are a way to support the children and young adults of St. Mary’s Home and create a lasting memory. For information on how to purchase a paver, click here.






Congratulations, St. Mary’s Class of 2011

Principal Terry Lyle presents Josh with his diploma during the commencement ceremony in St. Mary’s Atrium. 

Friday was a day to celebrate Josh and Maurice, two young men who live at St. Mary’s Home, and to reflect on how far they have come as they prepare for their future.

“For most of us, living is relatively easy. We get up in the morning and get dressed and drive to work,” special educator Judith Green said during her keynote speech at the graduation ceremony for St. Mary’s Class of 2011.

“For Maurice and Joshua, it is not easy,” said Green, director of Southeastern Cooperative Educational Programs, or SECEP. “They have struggled to live, they have to depend on others, and they have fought hard to get where they are today.”

Every child and young adult at St. Mary’s attends classes, either at the Home through a partnership with SECEP or at Norfolk and Virginia Beach public schools. Graduation signals the end of formal education for young people who are 21 or will turn 21 in the next year. Currently, young adults must find other living arrangements, such as group homes, before they turn 22, although St. Mary’s is planning to open an adult wing in 2012.

Families, guardians, staff, friends and other residents gathered in the Atrium for this year’s ceremony, which began with four of the younger children presenting colors and also included a video tribute featuring photos of the two graduates through the years.

The caregivers and teachers who knew the graduates the best shared a bit about them. “You haven’t really experienced St. Mary’s until you’ve met Maurice,”  who loves to sing and dance, said teacher Kimberley Curll; as if to prove her point, he smiled and vocalized and gestured exuberantly through much of the ceremony.

Nancy Bryan gave the family tribute. She said her son Josh has been a blessing and has  taught her to “learn to appreciate the small victories.” She also thanked the staff at St. Mary’s Home for taking good care of him.

Before the keynote speech, St. Mary’s CEO William C. Giermak noted that Green is retiring this year and said the Home was honored to have one of her last official acts be to speak at commencement.

Earlier Friday, the teaching staff presented Terry Lyle with a paver in her honor to celebrate her 10th anniversary as principal of  SECEP REACH (Raising  Expectations and Abilities for Children with Complex Health Needs). The paver has been placed along the walkway at St. Mary’s entrance.

Create a Lasting Memory for Memorial Day

Engraved with a loved one’s name, a sentiment or an expression of gratitude, a paver creates a lasting memory. You can support the children and young adults of St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children while recognizing someone special.

Memorial Day is a nice time to honor someone with a paver, but paver orders are always welcome.

One paver costs $150; each additional paver is $100. For information or to reserve a brick, contact Diane Zinn, (757) 622-2208 ext. 328 or (800) 237-6555.

Thank you for supporting the children and young adults of St. Mary’s Home, and have a safe and happy holiday weekend.