St. Joseph's Villa Never Stops Believing in Children and Families
Over its 182-year history, the services St. Joseph’s provides have changed, but who it serves has not. Last year, St. Joseph’s served 3,000 children, and their families, who are suffering mental challenges, autism and homelessness.
“Don’t Stop Believin’” was a top hit for the rock-and-roll band Journey in 1981 – with more than a few boomers over the years loudly singing the catchy lyrics during their favorite karaoke night. But local nonprofit St. Joseph’s Villa has taken the popular song title to a whole new level. We never stop believing in children and families – that’s the mantra at St. Joseph’s Villa, and you can be a part of it by Giving Back.
St. Joseph’s Villa was founded as a girls’ orphanage in 1834 and is now the longest-operating children’s nonprofit organization in the country, according to Drew Melson, St. Joseph’s director of marketing communications.
“We’ve been open 24/7 since the beginning, and we couldn’t be open and serving our children without the support of our volunteers. They’re an extension of our team.”
Over its 182-year history, the services St. Joseph’s provides have changed, but who it serves has not. Last year, St. Joseph’s served 3,000 children, and their families, who are suffering mental challenges, autism and homelessness. It took 200 volunteers to touch that many lives. “Volunteers come to us as individuals or as large corporate teams,” explains Melson, who says volunteer opportunities are wide ranging. “Our Learning & Therapy Garden was built entirely by volunteers, and they are instrumental in other areas as well, including mentoring and working in the donation center.”
Dorothy Hill has been volunteering at St. Joseph’s for more than 15 years – the entire time she’s worked for Capital One Financial Services, a large private employer with offices in Richmond.
“One of the first volunteer events I ever participated in through Capital One was at St. Joseph’s Villa,” exclaims Hill. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to give back and to actually see the benefit of what St. Joseph’s is doing. It’s a win-win.”
The impact Hill and her Capital One associates are making is tremendous. Hill says last Christmas 22 associates organized a “Season of Hope” campaign that provided over 100 children with clothing, outerwear and toys. They provided for five families as well. “It astonishes me,” Hill says. “The passion and the dedication among our associates are amazing. I’m working with St. Joseph’s now to deepen our relationship so it’s not just at the Season of Hope time, but a quarterly event.”
Melson had a similar experience volunteering. A few years ago, he mentored a fourth-grade boy during his lunch hour. The child had a host of behavioral problems. “I would meet with him once a week for an hour,” Melson detailed, “playing games or doing homework. The more we met, the more he opened up, to the point his teacher told me his behavior in class had improved and that he was bonding with other kids. It was so great to hear.”
If you’d like to volunteer as an individual or as a corporate team at St. Joseph’s Villa, you can find more information on the organization’s website. A volunteer application will collect your contact information along with your interests and availability. At St. Joseph’s, they never stop believing in children and families, and neither will you when you start Giving Back. Heck, you may even break out in song!
St. Joseph’s Villa CEO Kathleen Burke Barrett was named one of Boomer Magazine’s 2016 Boomers and Shakers! The annual Boomers and Shaker awards recognize individuals who have bettered our community in important and inspiring ways. Click here to read Kathleen’s interview in the December-January issue of Boomer.
WANT TO VOLUNTEER?
These worthy organizations need your help.
St. Joseph’s Villa
How it helps: Provides programs to assist children with special needs and their families.
How you can help: Volunteer as an individual or corporate team to mentor a student, assist with administrative projects or work the Learning & Therapy Garden.
Contact: Visit website or call Kathy Perun, director of community engagement, 804-521-5577 or email@example.com.
Lifelong Learning Institute in Chesterfield
How it helps: Provides educational, fitness and social enrichment programs for people 50 and older.
How you can help: Assist with setting up for programs, leading a study group or working with a committee. Volunteer at the LLI art exhibit on April 14-15 at 13801 Westfield Road, Midlothian.
Contact: Fill out a volunteer application online or call 804-378-2527.
Big Brothers Big Sisters Serving Greater Richmond, Tri-Cities & Hampton Roads
How it helps: Provides adult mentoring for kids facing adversity.
How you can help: Volunteer as a Big Brother or Big Sister to a child or support fundraising events.
Contact: Submit a volunteer application on the website or call 804-261-4940.
St. Francis Humane Association
How it helps: Finds permanent homes for rescued cats while also working to prevent cruelty to and suffering of all animals.
How you can help: Become a foster home for a cat or kitten, which includes transportation to and from veterinary appointments.
Contact: Fill out a volunteer application on the website under “Want to Help” or call 804-598-6636.