St. Mary’s Community Liaison Connects Children, Volunteers

2016-09-21-carlton-farmer-headshotNORFOLK, Va. (Oct. 13, 2016) — Carlton Farmer has become the community liaison for St. Mary’s Home, coordinating volunteers who assist in many ways with the children and young adults who live at the nonprofit.

Farmer has been with St. Mary’s in various capacities since 2010. He has worked as a recreational therapy assistant, recreational therapy team leader and a direct support professional, or DSP. Most recently, he worked as a part-time DSP for St. Mary’s while also working as a teaching assistant and lead teacher during the summers at the Home’s school, which operates under a partnership with the REACH (Raising Expectations and Abilities for Children with Complex Health Needs) program of Southeastern Cooperative Educational Programs.

“My days of work do not feel like work at all and are filled with connecting those who live at St Mary’s with people from the community,” Farmer said. For example, volunteers may read to the children, spending one-on-one time with them or help with programs at the Home that include music, art, dance, pottery and more.

Farmer holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Old Dominion University. As community liaison, he succeeds Shirley Justice, who retired earlier this year.

About St. Mary’s Home: St. Mary’s Home, formerly St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children, in Norfolk provides around-the-clock, specialized residential care for 88 children and 12 adults from throughout Virginia who have multiple, severe disabilities. For more information, visit www.SaintMarysHome.org.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Sonja Barisic, APR
Director of Marketing Communications
St. Mary’s Home
(757) 352-2700 | cell (757) 412-7071
sbarisic@smhdc.org

Download a PDF of the news release.

St. Mary’s Social Worker Promoted to Director of Social Work

christine-parker-headshotNORFOLK, Va. (Oct. 13, 2016) — Christine Parker, MSW, was promoted to director of social work for St. Mary’s Home, which cares for children and adults who have severe disabilities.

Parker has been with St. Mary’s for about 14 years, working as an activity assistant for six years before moving into the role of social worker. As director of social work, she is the main liaison among St. Mary’s, the children and and young adults who live at the nonprofit and their families and legal guardians. She succeeds Melanie Pérez-López, who retired earlier this year.

Parker earned her undergraduate degree in human service counseling from Old Dominion University and her master’s degree in social work from Norfolk State University.

“I enjoy coming to work every day because I know the ultimate goal is to enrich the lives and the families of the young people we serve,” said Parker, whose passion for working with children started at an early age through babysitting and volunteering for others.

About St. Mary’s Home: St. Mary’s Home, formerly St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children, in Norfolk provides around-the-clock, specialized residential care for 88 children and 12 adults from  throughout Virginia who have multiple, severe disabilities. For more information, visit www.SaintMarysHome.org.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Sonja Barisic, APR
Director of Marketing Communications
St. Mary’s Home
(757) 352-2700 | cell (757) 412-7071
sbarisic@smhdc.org

Download a PDF of the news release.

 

St. Mary’s CEO to Retire After 40-Year Career in Healthcare

St. May's Home children.

Salim, who lives at St. Mary’s Home, checks out the office of CEO William C. Giermak, who plans to retire from the nonprofit in October. (photo by Chris Tyree for St. Mary’s Home)

WilliamGiermakNORFOLK, Va. (Aug. 30, 2016) — William C. Giermak, who led St. Mary’s Home through expansion to care for adults as well as children with severe disabilities, will retire in October after 12 years as the nonprofit’s CEO and a 40-year healthcare career devoted to making a difference in the community.

“I just thought it was the right time for me and my family, and the right time for St. Mary’s to have new leadership and a new voice,” said Giermak, who turned 65 earlier this year.

“It’s a good time because the Home is in good shape,” said Giermak, who previously was president and CEO of Obici Health System. “St. Mary’s is a good place, with the potential to be even better. I’m proud of the people here. The care is wonderful. What they accomplish here to help give the children a good life is really remarkable and impressive, and we can do even more.”

Giermak’s last day will be Oct. 28, almost exactly 12 years after he arrived at St. Mary’s, which then cared for 88 children and young adults who have severe, multiple disabilities. Highlights of Giermak’s tenure include opening the $3 million Albero House in 2013 to care for 12 adults older than 21, creating a recreational therapy program and hiring a respiratory therapist and speech therapists to enhance St. Mary’s services.

St. Mary’s Board of Directors will make a decision shortly about Giermak’s successor.

“We thank Mr. Giermak for his dedicated service to the children and young adults of St. Mary’s Home and The Albero House, and we wish him a happy retirement,” said Nancy Wilcox, president of St. Mary’s Board of Directors.

“St. Mary’s has grown under his strong and caring leadership, and he leaves the Home prepared for future opportunities to help even more families on our campus and beyond,” Wilcox said.

Giermak earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the College of William & Mary and a master’s degree in health administration from the Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University.

With an interest in business related to social service, he began his career as assistant administrator at Lewis-Gale Hospital in Salem, Va., working for Hospital Corporation of America.

After two years, he moved to Crockett General Hospital in rural Lawrenceburg, Tenn., becoming one of HCA’s youngest hospital administrators. He was 27.

Three years later, Giermak assumed leadership of HCA’s Terre Haute Regional Hospital in Indiana. During his seven years there, the hospital started an open-heart surgery program, as well as an in-patient psychiatric unit and an in-patient drug and alcohol treatment program.

Wanting to move back to Virginia, Giermak accepted the position of president and CEO of Obici Health System in Suffolk in 1988. He oversaw the opening of Obici’s $85 million replacement facility, a cutting-edge hospital that became a model for other hospitals built around Virginia.

Giermak is a founding board member of the Faith Inclusion Network, as well as a member of the Rotary Club of Hampton Roads and a board member of the Town Point Club in Norfolk. In retirement, he is looking forward to relaxing with his wife, Betty, their three children and their new grandchild.

About St. Mary’s Home: St. Mary’s Home, formerly St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children, in Norfolk provides around-the-clock, specialized residential care for 88 children and 12 adults from throughout Virginia who have multiple, severe disabilities. For more information, visit www.SaintMarysHome.org.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Sonja Barisic, APR
Director of Marketing Communications
St. Mary’s Home
(757) 352-2700 | cell (757) 412-7071
sbarisic@smhdc.org

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Download a PDF of the news release.

PRA Group Donates $25,000 to St. Mary’s Home for “It’s Fall, Y’all”

PRA Group check presentation to SMH

PRA Group presented St. Mary’s Home with a check for $40,000 at the St. Mary’s Auxiliary’s Board Gala and Auction on April 16. The donation included $25,000 to sponsor the “It’s Fall, Y’all” fall event and $15,000 to support the Gala. From left: William C. Giermak, CEO of St. Mary’s Home, and PRA Group’s Latisha Owens, deputy general counsel, and Chris Lagow, senior vice president, general counsel. (photo courtesy of Carl Anderson, Hampton Roads Photography, for St. Mary’s Home)

NORFOLK, Va. (July 12, 2016) — St. Mary’s Home will hold its first “It’s Fall, Y’all” celebration, presented by PRA Group, with food, live music and family friendly activities to mark the change of season.

“It’s Fall, Y’all” will take place Friday, Sept. 23, the day after the start of autumn, from 5-8 p.m. on the grounds of St. Mary’s Home, across from Sentara Leigh Hospital.

PRA Group, a longtime supporter of the nonprofit home for children and young adults with disabilities, has generously donated $25,000 toward the event. Proceeds will help provide quality, specialized care each young person at St. Mary’s can achieve his or her fullest potential.

Coastal Prosthetics & Orthotics and National Seating & Mobility also are sponsoring the event. Tradition Brewing Co., a new craft brewery in Newport News, has partnered with St. Mary’s to provide adult beverages. Guests also will enjoy BBQ from Malbon Bros., salty seaside oysters from Welton’s Seafood, wine, special desserts provided by St. Mary’s Kid2Kid youth volunteer group, cornhole and other activities, tours of St. Mary’s and live bluegrass music by More Perfect Jones.

Tickets can be purchased online at SaintMarysHome.org or in person at St. Mary’s Home,6171 Kempsville Circle, Norfolk. Early bird tickets purchased by Sept. 1 cost $35 per adult, $20 per youth (under age 21) and $100 for a family pack (two adults and up to three children). After Sept. 1, tickets will increase to $45 for adult, $25 for youth and $125 for the family pack.

About PRA Group: As a global leader in acquiring and collecting nonperforming loans, PRA Group (Nasdaq:PRAA) returns capital to banks and other creditors to help expand financial services for consumers in the Americas and Europe. PRA Group companies collaborate with customers to help them resolve their debt and provide a broad range of additional revenue and recovery services to business and government clients.

PRA has been recognized as one of Fortune’s 100 Fastest-Growing Companies for three years, one of Forbes‘ Best Small Companies in America for eight consecutive years and one of Forbes’ Best Midsize Employers in America in 2016. For more information, visit www.pragroup.com.

About St. Mary’s Home: St. Mary’s Home in Norfolk provides around-the-clock, specialized residential care for 88 children and 12 adults from throughout Virginia who have multiple, severe disabilities. With the opening of The Albero House at St. Mary’s in 2013 to provide care for adults 22 and over, St. Mary’s Home has shortened its name from St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children. For more information, visit www.SaintMarysHome.org.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Sonja Barisic, APR
Director of Marketing Communications
St. Mary’s Home
(757) 352-2700 | cell (757) 412-7071
sbarisic@smhdc.org

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Download a PDF of the news release.

Oh, the Places They Go! Peer Play Pals Explore the Community

Peer Pals1

Making art at the Children’s Museum of Virginia. St. Mary’s Peer Play Pals program is celebrating its two-year anniversary this June.

The littlest kids at St. Mary’s play a lot, enjoying activities in a colorful classroom designed to stimulate their senses as part of our Infant and Toddler Program.

Fridays, though, are different. That’s when they go on field trips: to the new Slover Library in downtown Norfolk, the Children’s Museum of Virginia in Portsmouth, the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, and even the Busch Gardens amusement park an hour away in Williamsburg, to name just a few places they’ve been.

Fridays are when Iker, Mackenzie, Jeremyiah and Anthony explore their community. Coming along for the fun are their young friends who don’t have disabilities.

All these adventures are part of Peer Play Pals. The program began as a pilot project in June 2014 as a way for kids at St. Mary’s to play with other kids their own age, in places they’d never been, said Nicole Hoskins Jones, our director of recreational therapy.

Nicole’s initial idea to form a playgroup at her son’s school evolved into a group based at St. Mary’s, with several St. Mary’s employees and their children, as well as both of Nicole’s young sons, involved.

“They’re all just being kids. Sometimes they share. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes there are tears,” Nicole said. “Kids don’t know disabilities. They’re just kids. Everybody learns from this.”

Today, there are two groups of Peer Pals, kids three and under who go on field trips during the day on Fridays, and kids ages four to six who started with the program and are now in school but get together once a month or so.

The trips include activities, snacks and lunches at restaurants. Donors like you make the Peer Pals program possible by giving Visa gift cards that help pay for meals and gift cards to places like Build-a-Bear Workshop.

Sometimes the kids get together at St. Mary’s, for example, holding a “Friendsgiving” dinner around Thanksgiving. The kids shopped for the food and helped prepare a little feast.

Peer Play Pals is about peer modeling, said Erin Vicinski, who runs the Infant and Toddler Program and facilitates Peer Play Pals.

“Kids learn from each other, learn through play,” Erin said. “They can watch me play all day long, but it’s not the same. They see what other kids are doing, how to play appropriately. It’s about social development, to learn what’s acceptable and not acceptable.”

And it’s about being free to be a kid – and to explore.

This article is from the spring 2016  issue of our newsletter, Journeys. Read the entire issue online here. To request a print copy of the newsletter, contact Sonja Barisic, APR, director of marketing communications, at sbarisic@smhdc.org or (757) 352-2700. 

Teens to Dance at Prom, Thanks to Volunteers and Local Businesses

Aby at St. Mary's prom in 2015.

Aby at St. Mary’s prom in 2015.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NORFOLK, Va. (May 17, 2016) — Eighteen young people with disabilities who live at St. Mary’s Home will dress up on Sunday, May 22, to enjoy that typical teen rite of passage: prom. And they’re going to do it in style, with a downtown hotel generously donating ballroom space and several other businesses providing dresses, decorations, flowers, music and styling assistance at no charge.

St. Mary’s has put on prom on its campus every year since 2006. This Sunday’s prom will be the first held off campus, from 3-5 p.m. at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott. VisitNorfolk, the city’s convention and visitors bureau, connected St. Mary’s with the hotel, which also offered to provide food plus space for the teens – eight girls and 10 boys – to primp for the big occasion.

“This is going to bring something special to prom that we haven’t had before,” said Nicole Hoskins Jones, St. Mary’s director of recreational therapy, which organizes prom.

The dance is a huge team effort that also involves many staff from other departments, as well as the teens’ families. In addition, students from Grassfield High School in Chesapeake and members of Lifepoint Christian Fellowship in Chesapeake will volunteer at prom, which of course will include the crowning of a king and queen.

Several other local businesses also have agreed to donate products and services:

  • Random Breeze Boutique in Virginia Beach provided prom dresses the girls selected themselves.
  • The new Edward Johnson Salon in Norfolk will send stylists and a makeup artist to the hotel to do the girls’ hair and makeup.
  • The New Leaf florist in Norfolk will provide corsages and boutonnieres.
  • Premier Events of Virginia Inc., of Virginia Beach, offered to donate a décor package, including a mural backdrop, a red carpet with stanchions and velvet ropes, table linens and chair covers, and centerpieces for the tables.
  • Play It Again DJs of Newport News will provide the music.

In addition, the Auxiliary Board of St. Mary’s Home, an annual supporter of prom, will rent tuxedos for the boys and help with any additional expenses to make this event special.

About St. Mary’s Home: St. Mary’s Home in Norfolk provides around-the-clock, specialized residential care for 88 children and 12 adults from throughout Virginia who have multiple, severe disabilities. With the opening of The Albero House at St. Mary’s in 2013 to provide care for adults 22 and over, St. Mary’s Home has shortened its name from St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Sonja Barisic, APR
Director of Marketing Communications
St. Mary’s Home
(757) 352-2700 | cell (757) 412-7071
sbarisic@smhdc.org

Auxiliary Gala Raises More Than $85,000 to Help Children and Young Adults

Nancy Wilcox, left, president of the Board of Directors of St. Mary’s Home and a longtime member of St. Mary’s Auxiliary Board, with Mollie Pavlik, president of the Auxiliary Board. Wilcox presented Pavlik with flowers and a painting created by Koko, who lives at St. Mary’s, to thank her for leading the event. (photo courtesy Hampton Roads Photography)

Nancy Wilcox, left, president of the Board of Directors of St. Mary’s Home and a longtime member of St. Mary’s Auxiliary Board, with Mollie Pavlik, president of the Auxiliary Board. Wilcox presented Pavlik with flowers and a painting created by Koko, who lives at St. Mary’s, to thank her for leading the event. (photo courtesy Hampton Roads Photography)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NORFOLK, Va. (May 16, 2016) — Children and young adults with disabilities who live at St. Mary’s Home will enjoy more field trips and benefit from much-needed medical equipment with the success of a gala that raised more than $85,000 for the nonprofit.

After 10 years of events in Virginia Beach, the Auxiliary Board of St. Mary’s Home held its 11th annual Gala and Auction on April 16 at a new location: The Half Moone Cruise & Celebration Center on Norfolk’s downtown waterfront. Special guests included Lynn, who lives at St. Mary’s Home, as well as several current and former St. Mary’s families.

“The Gala is a time to celebrate the residents of St. Mary’s Home and our Albero House for adults, as well as the wonderful environment that our community partners, sponsors, families, friends and staff help provide for them,” Auxiliary President Mollie Pavlik said.

WVEC-TV weather forecaster Craig Moeller served as master of ceremonies as nearly 300 people had the opportunity to bid during silent and live auctions on items including jewelry, sports memorabilia, artwork, a trip to New York City and a stay in a centuries-old home in Provence, France. A special live auction just to fund field trips for the children of and young adults of St. Mary’s raised $16,000 from generous bidders.

Guests enjoyed bidding on a variety of prizes during an exciting live auction that was a highlight of the Auxiliary Board of St. Mary’s 11th annual Gala and Auction on April 16 at The Half Moone Cruise & Celebration Center on Norfolk’s downtown waterfront. (photo courtesy Hampton Roads Photography)

Guests enjoyed bidding on a variety of prizes during an exciting live auction that was a highlight of the Auxiliary Board of St. Mary’s 11th annual Gala and Auction on April 16 at The Half Moone Cruise & Celebration Center on Norfolk’s downtown waterfront. (photo courtesy Hampton Roads Photography)

For the sixth year in a row, the Gala’s Presenting Diamond Sponsor, Checkered Flag Auto Group, donated a car for the Auxiliary to raffle off at the end of the evening. The raffle raised about $20,000, with the 2016 silver Toyota Corolla going to Eugene Adams, 91, of Virginia Beach.

Additional Gala sponsors included:

  • Sapphire Sponsor — PRA Group
  • Emerald Sponsor — SAIC
  • Silent Auction Sponsors — Kaufman & Canoles, P.C., Monarch Bank and Kerneos, Inc.
  • Reception Sponsor — PF&A Design
  • Friends of St. Mary’s — Hook Law Center, Mercer, Roof Engineering Corporation, TowneBank and Thompson, Siegel and Walmsley, LLC

The Norfolk Strolling Silver Strings provided musical entertainment for the evening. Volunteers from Junior League of Norfolk-Virginia Beach handled registration, while members of the Key Club of Frank W. Cox High School volunteered as auction assistants.

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Members of Junior League of Norfolk-Virginia Beach, who handled registration at the Gala, and other guests had fun posing in front of a new backdrop with St. Mary’s new logo and tagline, “A good life.” (photo courtesy Hampton Roads Photography)

About St. Mary’s Home: St. Mary’s Home in Norfolk provides around-the-clock, specialized residential care for 88 children and 12 adults from throughout Virginia who have multiple, severe disabilities. With the opening of The Albero House at St. Mary’s in 2013 to provide care for adults 22 and over, St. Mary’s Home has shortened its name from St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Sonja Barisic, APR
Director of Marketing Communications
St. Mary’s Home
(757) 352-2700 | cell (757) 412-7071
sbarisic@smhdc.org

Click here to download news release.

 

91-Year-Old Wins Car in Raffle to Help Kids with Disabilities

SMH Car Raffle Winner

From left: Checkered Flag BMW General Manager Todd Collins, St. Mary’s CEO William C. Giermak, Auxiliary Board President Mollie Pavlik, lucky car winner Eugene Adams, St. Mary’s Director of Annual Giving Mary Helen Hilton and Auxiliary Board Treasurer Marie Siebeking.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

NORFOLK, Va. (May 2, 2016) — Eugene Adams, 91, pulled up to St. Mary’s Home in a 25-year-old Jeep. He drove away from the nonprofit in a brand new Toyota Corolla.

Checkered Flag Auto Group, which operates multiple dealerships in Virginia Beach, donated the silver car for the Auxiliary Board of St. Mary’s Home to raffle. Adams bought the winning ticket in the drawing, which raised about $20,000 to help 100 children and young adults with severe disabilities who live at St. Mary’s.

Auxiliary Board President Mollie Pavlik handed over the keys to Adams when his daughter brought him to St. Mary’s to sign paperwork to take ownership of the car. She told him she was very excited that he had won.

“YOU’RE excited?” Adams replied with a grin.

Todd Collins, general manager of Checkered Flag BMW, arranged the giveaway and was on hand to greet Adams and show him some of the car’s features. This was the sixth year in a row that Checkered Flag donated a car to the Auxiliary raffle. The winning ticket was pulled during the Auxiliary’s Gala and Auction on April 16 at the Half Moone Cruise & Celebration Center in Norfolk.

Adams said he bought his raffle tickets — 10 in all for a total of $200 — to help the children of St. Mary’s.

The Virginia Beach resident met his wife in 1946 when he was a Corsair pilot on the USS Midway aircraft carrier at Oceana Naval Air Station. They were married nearly 67 years when she passed away in 2014.

Adams, who turned 91 in March, said he’s “almost too old for a new car,” but that he definitely needed one. “Ninety-one is a heck of an age to win a new car,” he said. “But that is how the ball bounces.”

He said he’d never won anything before, except for a basket of groceries. The car, he said, was a much better prize.

About St. Mary’s Home: St. Mary’s Home in Norfolk provides around-the-clock, specialized residential care for 88 children and 12 adults from throughout Virginia who have multiple, severe disabilities. With the opening of The Albero House at St. Mary’s in 2013 to provide care for adults 22 and over, St. Mary’s Home has shortened its name from St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Sonja Barisic, APR
Director of Marketing Communications
St. Mary’s Home
(757) 352-2700 | cell (757) 412-7071
sbarisic@smhdc.org

Click here to download release.

Development Says Hello to Brittany Boylan, Farewell to Diane Zinn

Isaiah and Brittany Often after school, Isaiah drops by the administration area to visit with the staff, including Brittany Boylan, who has joined St. Mary’s Home and The Albero House as the development department coordinator. Brittany recently worked for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Florida in Pensacola.

Brittany graduated from the University of South Florida, where she studied mass communications and psychology. She is thrilled to have found a position with an organization committed to providing the absolute best care for individuals with disabilities and striving to enhance their quality of life.

Diane's Paver ArrivesBrittany succeeds Diane Zinn, who retired after nine years at St. Mary’s. Among Diane’s many duties was overseeing a program in which you can support the Home by buying a paver engraved with a loved one’s name, a sentiment or expression of gratitude. As a parting gift, colleagues presented Diane with a paver of her own.

To order your own paver, click here. Or, contact Brittany at bboylan@smhdc.org or (757) 622-2208 ext. 328.

This article is from the winter 2015-2016 issue of our newsletter, Journeys. Read the entire issue online here. To request a print copy of the newsletter, contact Sonja Barisic, APR, director of marketing communications, at sbarisic@smhdc.org or (757) 352-2700. 

Save the Date: Auxiliary Gala & Car Drawing April 16

Auxiliary Board - Sip of JoeJohn and other kids in Classroom 10 were joined recently by some special guests. Members of our Auxiliary Board were meeting at St. Mary’s when they stopped by the student-run Sip o’ Joe Cafe for a coffee break.

The Auxiliary is busy planning its 11th annual gala and auction, to be held April 16 at a new venue: The Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center on the downtown Norfolk waterfront. Items up for auction will include jewelry, sports memorabilia and a trip to France. The event will culminate with a drawing for a 2016 classic silver Toyota Corolla donated by our friends at Checkered Flag.

For information about the gala or to buy your raffle tickets for the car, contact Mary Helen Hilton, (757) 446-6793 or mhilton@smhdc.org. Or buy your raffle tickets online here.

This article is from the winter 2015-2016 issue of our newsletter, Journeys. Read the entire issue online here. To request a print copy of the newsletter, contact Sonja Barisic, APR, director of marketing communications, at sbarisic@smhdc.org or (757) 352-2700.