Sisters honored for volunteer work

By Dave Eck

Volunteering is a key ministry for many Precious Blood Sisters, and three Sisters this year have been recognized for their efforts.

Sister Nancy Raley was given the Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley 2015 Volunteer Service Award during a ceremony on May 12. Sister Paula Gero received the St. Anne Medal by the Diocese of Lansing during a ceremony at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Lansing, Michigan, on March 22, and Sister Genny Volk received the Distinguished Volunteer Award for Sacred Heart Academy at the San Bernardino, California, Catholic Schools banquet on January 31.

Sister Nancy spends most Tuesdays and Thursdays at Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley helping process clients at the agency’s Choice Food Pantry in Dayton, Ohio, or writing acknowledgement letters to donors. She’s been doing the volunteer jobs for 10 years.

A retired dietician, public health nutritionist and nursing home administrator who worked in nutrition and management in the public sector and for the Sisters of the Precious Blood, Sister Nancy began volunteering at the Catholic Social Services in 2005 after a year-long sabbatical. She had previously served 12 years on the community council.

She was looking for an opportunity to use her experience as a dietitian and her enjoyment of working with computers when she learned of the need at Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley. It was a good fit.

“With practice has come proficiency and enjoyment in generating gift acknowledgement letters,” Sister Nancy said. “I like computers, and working with the software program is similar to playing a computer game – challenging, interconnected, and can be fun. After many years as an administrator, I enjoy this concrete task which has a beginning and an end.

Choice Food Pantry served 18,000 people in 2014. In addition to providing food, clients at the pantry are offered social services designed to provide opportunities to sustain themselves.

“I see this volunteer ministry as part of something larger,” Sister Nancy said. “As a Sister of the Precious Blood, I am called to proclaim God’s love as a life-giving, reconciling presence in our fractured world. By contributing my time and talents, I help further Catholic Social Services’ mission of strengthening individuals and families through actions of faith, service and charity. I believe in the mission of the organization.”

Sister Genny’s award recognizes volunteers who have impacted Catholic schools in the diocese with Gospel values so that students’ lives are filled with hope, and who are held in high regard by members of the school community. Sister Genny volunteers four days a week at Sacred Heart in Redlands, California, tutoring younger students on reading and phonics skills.

“I was surprised,” Sister Genny said about receiving the award. “I felt honored to be selected by the principal of our school. It affirms for me that I’m making a difference in bringing the children I tutor up to par on reading and phonics skills.”

A resident of Redlands, Sister Genny began volunteering at Sacred Heart about five years ago. She was seeking an opportunity to volunteer, and offered her skills to the school. She ministered in education for about 30 years and then spent about 17 years in spiritual direction and retreat work.

“The children (and parents) at Sacred Heart Academy are so blessed to have Sr. Genny,” said Sacred Heart parent Linda Hook. “Her tutoring helps children that would otherwise be struggling. She does this with a compassionate heart, never expecting recognition. Her award is so well deserved.”

Sister Paula received her award during a ceremony conducted by Bishop of Lansing Earl Boyea that honored Scouts and other youth groups for their work on religious awards. Sister Paula accompanied four Girl Scouts who had completed the requirements for the I Live My Faith medal. She did not know that the four girls had written tributes to her, and was quite surprised by the honor.

Initiated by the United States Catholic Conference in 1957, the medal recognizes adults who have contributed notable service in developing girls’ activities and who has demonstrated a willingness to serve as a leader of the activities for at least five years.

Sister Paula, a teacher at St. Pius X School in Flint, Michigan, had previously received the Elizabeth Ann Seton award for similar work.