ST. MARY’S HOME FOR DISABLED CHILDREN HOSTS MANY LOCAL GROUPS – AND SANTA – DURING HOLIDAYS
NORFOLK, Va. – December 8, 2008 –St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children is full of hustle and bustle for the holidays, with a number of groups and organizations taking part in festivities with the children and young adults who live here. Even Jolly Old Saint Nick himself is expected to drop by – twice.
St. Mary’s Home is the only pediatric long-term-care residential facility of its kind in Virginia, caring for up to 92 children and young adults from across the state who have severe to profound disabilities.
Mo Patrick, a line truck driver and auger operator for Dominion, went on a tour of St. Mary’s and was so inspired that he has been coming to the Home every December dressed as Santa for about 10 years. Mr. Patrick, whose full white beard gives him more than a passing resemblance to Santa, will be back again on Wednesday, Dec. 10, at 10 a.m., to pose for photos with some of St. Mary’s younger residents.
“I just love seeing each and every one of the kids, and the women and men who work there just take such good care of them and even buy presents for the kids themselves,” Patrick said. “This makes my Christmas, right here. People can’t buy me anything to replace what I do.”
Santa’s visit is part of Dominion Resources’s ongoing support of St. Mary’s Home. Richmond-based Dominion Resources, one of the nation’s leading energy companies, recently gave $5,000 for a reception to recognize donors, medical professionals and others making a difference in the lives of the children and their families.
Other holiday highlights at St. Mary’s Home include:
– Southeastern Cooperative Educational Programs (SECEP), which runs the school at St. Mary’s Home, will present its annual holiday program on Dec. 16 from 6-8 p.m.
– Kerneos Inc., a Chesapeake cement manufacturer, will throw a holiday party – complete with wheelchair dancing – on Dec. 18 from 2-5 p.m.
– A different Santa will visit when a crew from AMSEC, a supplier to the Navy and commercial maritime industry, will bring gifts at 10 a.m. on Dec. 19.
– The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will perform a concert in St. Mary’s atrium on Dec. 19 at 1 p.m.
Other groups making the holidays bright at St. Mary’s Home include the Virginia Beach Garden Club, Harborfront Garden Club, Southern Riders Motorcycle Club, Chartway Federal Credit Union, Messiah Lutheran Church, The Williams School, The School of International Studies at Meadowbrook and the International Interior Design Association.
In addition, many individuals have been buying and dropping off gifts. One donor, who asked to remain anonymous, purchased every single suggested present on a holiday wish list for all of the children and young adults who live at St. Mary’s Home. Patrick (i.e., Santa) will help distribute them.
“So many generous people in Hampton Roads support the children and young adults who live at St. Mary’s Home for Disabled Children,” said William C. Giermak, St. Mary’s CEO. “On behalf of all of us at St. Mary’s Home, I thank everyone who takes the time during this busy season to think of us.”
Ron Herrick, St. Mary’s facility maintenance manager, set the tone for the holidays by bringing to the Home a 1931 Model A Ford that he and his grandfather restored. The exquisite green car is parked inside St. Mary’s front lobby, which receptionist Delores Curry and Carmen Gerena, executive administrative assistant, helped Herrick turn into a vintage winter wonderland.
Shirley Parham, St. Mary’s special activities facilitator, and Sister Mary June, who coordinates meetings with regard to the children’s education and individualized plans of care, have continued their tradition of creating a winter scene in the center of the Home for everyone to enjoy. They filled St. Mary’s atrium with Santa and his reindeer, a Christmas tree, toys and a miniature carousel that continually plays holiday tunes. They were helped by Herrick, who brought in a vintage sleigh restored by his grandfather.
In keeping with the vintage theme, Norfolk artist Germaine Clair built a gingerbread version of St. Mary’s façade, based on the actual architectural plans for the Home. Her creation is now on display at the Home and also graces the cover of St. Mary’s holiday card. Philip Holman, a professional photographer and art teacher at the Visual & Performing Arts Academy at Salem High School in Virginia Beach, photographed the gingerbread home, along with some of the children at St. Mary’s, for the card. More information about the card and photo shoot is on St. Mary’s website, www.saintmaryshome.org.