When you walk into the halls of St. Catherine’s, the first thing you notice is the smile on the face of each staff member and each participant. The warm atmosphere is one of encouragement and patience. The mutual respect among the staff and the participants is immediately evident from their interactions.
Owen gets up each morning, excited to be with “his people” at St. Catherine’s. He has found his place, in this loving and supportive environment. The well-selected and well-trained staff are genuinely fond of him, as Owen can recognize, and that knowledge gives him the self-confidence he needs to expand his world. He looks forward to music, yoga, pizza day, and numerous trips out into businesses in the community to do volunteer work. He feels useful and valued.
We know the teamwork of the impressive staff members, under the very thoughtful and capable guidance of Helen Burland, is not only going to keep our son safe, but is going to keep him happy and engaged and eager to be a part of something bigger then himself. Owen feels a sense of belonging at St. Catherine’s. It is a beautiful thing to witness.
We are grateful to the dedicated staff members who come to work each day determined to make a difference in the lives of the participants. They do that joyfully, and more. They gift the parents of these very loved participants with peace of mind and hope. As a parent, there is no greater gift we could receive. We love St. Catherine’s!
Margaret and Dan Smith, parents
Saint Catherine Center for Special needs has been an ideal fit for our son Gus. The transition from our local high school’s “launch program” to an adult day services program was stressful for both Gus and us. We had only known our local school system which, over the years, had come to know Gus’ particular needs and provided a network of supports. We looked at several programs but most seemed too vocational for Gus’ abilities. And then Saint Catherine found us! The program is the perfect mix of nurture, individual care, and meaningful engagement in the surrounding community.
Gus works at a garden center, loves bowling, swimming, and taking nice walks. He really feels part of something special and studies the schedule every day. He is happy, engaged, and continues to grow, surprising us often with new skills and small victories. Vicky and I are gratified and impressed by the support structure of the Diocese, very involved board members, and the many supporters of Saint Catherine’s mission.
The day-to-day staff, Helen, and the team do a fantastic job. They live the core values they espouse. In particular, their respect of the dignity and diversity of each person and the focus on the total well-being of each individual really comes through. Gus is happy and loves to go to his “college.” As a result we are happy and thankful for everyone at Saint Catherine’s.
Tom & Vicky Reynolds, parents
When we first came to tour the Center, we were struck by how different it was from other places we had seen. We knew this was “the place” for Jessie. Our only concern was whether she would be able to participate sufficiently and “fit in.” We were quickly reassured during her transition and early period by how dedicated Helen and the staff were to really getting to know Jessie and us. They focused on how to make her feel comfortable, happy, engaged and ready to fully participate in all the opportunities at the Center. She reviews the monthly schedule and looks forward to all the activities—swimming, bowling, music, art, theater, gym, field trips to the zoo, and movies, as well as life skills, shopping, making meals, and projects with her new friends.
The richness of her environment is not the most important part, however. More important than anything else is the outstanding character of all of the people who make up St. Catherine’s. They are truly a gift from God to these special children and their families. Their love, patience, insight, and dedication cannot be taught, but it can be modeled and encouraged, and that is what Helen and her staff does. We are so grateful to have them in our lives and appreciate their willingness to share themselves with Jessie and us. Jessie looks forward to going to St. Catherine’s every day and especially loves the extra opportunity to dress up and attend the dinner dances provided by the Center. She has been able to make connections and share things with her friends that she could not do previously.
We thank God that we found St. Catherine’s and all the angels who work there.
Richard Zangrillo and Michelle Rivelli, parents
For several years, Mary and I were looking for an adult program for our son, Patrick who is blind and neurologically impaired. Everywhere we looked, we were given excuses as to why those programs could not encourage Patrick’s capabilities or see his accomplishments. They seemed to be, at best, custodial in nature.
From the moment we met Helen, the Center’s Executive Director, we knew that this was the right program for Patrick. We jointly developed a program to address his health in body (swimming twice a week), mind (special outings, reading, vocabulary, specific work assignments like delivering the mail and leading the pledge of allegiance) and spirit (music therapy and opportunities to attend Holy Cross Church). Every activity sets Patrick up for success and celebrates his growth.
Helen and the team are always saying, “How can we help Patrick accomplish his goals? How can we make his program more interesting and challenging? How can we modify things to make the experience more meaningful to him?”
Since Patrick has been attending Saint Catherine Academy, his confidence has grown. Instead of being too shy to sing along with his peers, he now sings right into the microphone. Bob Ross, parent
I support St. Catherine Center because it is an answer to the prayers of so many. Parents can send their children here and know they are safe and secure. They learn, and they thrive! They are loved, they are nurtured, and in turn love and nurture back. In a world with so much chaos, what happens at St. Catherine’s is an example of what Jesus taught us to strive for. Kelly Luff Weldon, Board member