Called to Serve

March 2018 View more

It should not come as a big surprise that St. Patrick’s Residence, a nursing and rehabilitation facility for the elderly in Naperville, holds a party on St. Patrick’s Day every year. Labeled as “Come to Mom’s House,” with the color green on vivid display everywhere, the party offers lively entertainment, usually including Irish musicians, Irish and Scottish dancers, children’s games, face painting, food and raffle drawings. To top it off, St. Patrick himself even makes an appearance.

Equally unsurprising is that St. Patrick’s staff, board members and volunteers are serious in their mission to do good and help others. This stems from the Catholic roots of the facility, which is sponsored by the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm. Four religious sisters from that congregation currently work there.

In that spirit, St. Patrick’s administrator Marilyn Daley wanted to do something to give thanks to the community.

“We’re blessed with over 200 active volunteers,” says Daley, noting that a majority of the volunteers have had family members who were residents before they passed away. “In reality, they do about 38,000 labor hours of work in this organization a year. … I’m in awe of the generosity of our community. …

“The other piece is we have a huge loyal donor base, and thank God for them because, in this fiscal environment, it is very difficult to generate the cash flow to fund capital projects. … So I asked myself one day, ‘What are we doing to give back?’”

That thought gave birth to the
St. Patrick’s Gives Back program. On a quarterly basis, leaders and staff members from the residence, along with volunteers, connect with other local organizations to offer help.

One recent visit was to Feed My Starving Children in Aurora, which provides nutritionally complete meals specifically formulated for malnourished children. About 40 people associated with St. Patrick’s showed up to help.

“We’re just people giving back because we’re fortunate enough to do that,” says Daley, a registered nurse who was previously vice president of outpatient services at Edward Hospital in Naperville.

The facility offers short-term rehabilitation, long-term care, dementia care and end-of-life care. It currently has 178 patients, with a total of 193 beds available.

“My motto is ‘keep your eye on the patient,’ and then you always do the right thing,” Daley says. “For me, I don’t get confused too much about where the compass should point. It’s on taking good care of the patient.”

Attached to the facility are a chapel and a convent, which is where the four religious sisters—Sister Kathleen John, Sister Raphael, Sister Mary Elizabeth and Sister Anthony Veilleux (St. Patrick’s assistant administrator)—live.

Sister Anthony offers her definition of what it means to give back:

“The greatest lesson is, it’s not about me. It’s about all of these other people we have been called to serve. Even though I may have things on my agenda to do, I wake up in the morning, and I think I have to accomplish this, this and this. The minute I step into this facility, that agenda goes right to the side because it’s the importance of what is happening at the moment [that takes precedence].

“And it’s all about these residents. Is there a person who needs a listening ear, a hand held or simply a smile? The lesson for me is to step aside and just be present to them in their need.”