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A Focus on Giving

Lory’s Place Advisory Board Chair, Irene Fiskars, has been a devoted supporter and member of the southwest Michigan community for over 39 years

A Focus On Giving

How long have you been a supporter and member of the southwest Michigan community?
I moved to Saint Joseph in June 1979. I spent five years working for Michigan Building Constructors (now Fiskars, Inc.) where I became involved in the Newcomer’s Club, which was mostly social activities but also provided opportunities for community services. I volunteered as a PediPainter. I would paint windows in the pediatrics wards of the hospital with cartoon characters and scenes. I’ve also been very active in many other programs such as United Way campaigns, the H.O.S.T.S reading program in the Benton Harbor school system, and volunteering at the Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College.

How did you get involved with Lory’s Place?
Our neighbor, Bill Marohn, who was involved in the launch of Lory’s Place, asked my husband and I to join him at a Crew meeting. I was so impressed by the atmosphere,the facility, and hearing about the work being done  for our community by such caring, capable people. After leaving that meeting, I knew I wanted to volunteer.

What is your role with Lory’s Place?
As a member of the Lory’s Place Crew, I have chaired committees and held various board positions including president. I was asked to join the Lory’s Place Advisory Board five years ago, serving as secretary for two years, then vice-chair for two years. I currently serve as the chair of the board.

Why do you think giving back is so important to our community?
I believe it’s vital to give back to your community. We all want our community to be a welcoming, thriving place. I want a wholesome and creative place for my children and grandchildren to grow-up where they can develop and learn about giving back through local acts of charity.

How has the Lory’s Place mission impacted you personally?
As the years have passed I felt a strong responsibility to continue to help at Lory’s Place and share their mission in the community. This became personal for me when one of my granddaughter’s soccer teammates was killed in an ATV accident. The first call her coach made was to Lory’s Place to ask for help and guidance for her teammates. That just reinforced what I already felt. The programs provided by Lory’s Place are so necessary to our community. It is a wonderful resource available to all those in need.

What has been the most impactful moment you’ve experienced while volunteering with Lory’s Place?
It was when Carolyn Graves (current board member) spoke at a Reflections dinner about tragically losing her son. Her testimony was so touching and impactful. She shared how Lory’s Place not only helped her and her family, but also helped shed light on a need within our community. Carolyn shared that many people in the community didn’t know how to handle the death of a loved one or how to interact with someone who was grieving. Children were told to leave the room whenever a discussion about death or grief happened. By sharing her story, it exposed a need for Lory’s Place to connect with more local community agencies. We have now partnered with three new agencies: The Readiness Center, Catholic Community Center, and the Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor. I’m extremely happy to see that we are striving forward in multiple local areas.

What would you tell someone who is considering volunteering with Caring Circle?
If you want to contribute to the betterment of your community and to make a difference in your life and the lives of your neighbors and friends…VOLUNTEER! Caring Circle has many areas that need volunteers. I encourage you to ask questions, go online, talk to neighbors; you will be able to find an area of interest that you can help with and share your knowledge and compassion. We are extremely blessed to have such a caring, compassionate hometown.

Lory’s Place Crew is a group of volunteers who support the center’s mission and services through community awareness and fundraising activities. Interested in becoming involved in the Crew?

Contact Lory’s Place at
(269) 983-2707 or online at
www.lorysplace.org/volunteer

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For more information call
(269) 429-7100 or
(800) 717-3811

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