September 2016 Edition
Kim Snow knows it was "just meant to be". She had decided to look for a part-time job. A friend overheard someone say that “Sarah House” was looking for a part-time housekeeper. Having 6 year old twins at home, this was intriguing to Kim, event though she knew nothing about the organization. She called and set up an interview. From the time that she walked through the doors of "Sarah House", just as we hear from guests so often, Kim felt at home. "It was so warm, so comfortable. I sat and talked to Mary Keough (founder) and Joan Smith and right away I knew that I wanted to be part of this" Kim said. 10 years later, this writer is learning about how she was first introduced to our "home away from home".
Now Kim's favorite part of the day is when she comes in just before 8:00 a.m. It’s the time when she gets to check in with the guests, answer questions, and just "be there" for them. Her greatest challenge: she is so busy that she doesn't get the time she'd like to spend time with the volunteers. She is a busy woman. She can have 3- 11 bedrooms to clean in a day, along with 5 bathrooms, 2 common rooms, not to mention the loads of laundry that is done here each and every day. As anyone who has worked here knows, working at Sarah's Guest House is a family affair. Twins Hannah and Hayley have spent many days here cleaning, organizing, and helping out their mom and me. Those 6 year olds are beginning their senior year of school this year. As they told their mom, they are having their "last 1st day of school this week". Kim's husband Gary and the whole family have volunteered for many fundraising and informational events over the years.
Kim continued, "It was a busy day". She toured the house and was greeted by Paul Moralez, the first Jesuit Volunteer to work here. "Everyone was so kind. We went into the kitchen and met the Tuesday volunI couldn't begin to imagine Sarah's Guest House without Kim. teers - Chris, Betty, and Annie. It was so homey, so cozy. I Last summer, we had to do just that. She took leave to help out started two days later. Mary allowed me to work around my a family member. We were beside ourselves! She came back. girls' school schedule, so it was really a blessing." We cried. I told her she "In the beginning, because I was coming in a little later, I didn't is as much a part of this have much contact with the guests, as they were usually at the house as Mary, Dick, the hospital. I started working Saturdays and began to meet more Johnsons, the Eisenand more families. Everyone that I met was so thankful that bergs, the volunteers… they were able to stay at Sarah House. One of the first things I she is a beautiful, kind, remember someone telling me is how her family and another and gentle piece of the family had been "taking care of one another”, and that she had quilt that creates the “made friends here”." warmth that you feel when you come here. Another incident Kim remembers from the earlier days was a The warmth that is famimiddle aged man who was losing his wife to illness. "He was ly and the warmth that is just what our guests and everyone distraught. His wife did everything. He broke down in the uphere needs. Thank you Kim Snow for all that you do for stairs common room. Mary talked to him for nearly an hour. Sarah's Guest House. Mary Keough just had a way of calming people down, of giving them a little hope and faith to get through to the next day. Jen Coman I always admired that about her...she just amazed me." 1
Guest Letters “I can’t say enough good things about Sarah’s Guest House. You were there when we needed comfort and friendly faces. I looked forward to leaving the hospital and the stress there to come “home” as I called it. We made so many nice new friends. You are all angels.” Chet and Carole, Tampa, Fl “Thanks so much to the staff of Sarah’s Guest House. For two weeks we stayed in a hotel where we were alone in our suffering. Then we came here. There is a sense of community and support here. It’s like staying with family. Love to all who make this wonderful place operate.” Carl P., Massena, NY Note: Shirley Palmisano passed a week after Carl and his father Joe arrived. Our deepest sympathies to this kind, loving family. Thank you to all of your friends who sent donations in her memory.
“Thank you so much. The serenity and calm of Sarah’s Guest House was just what I needed before my operation.” Linda V. “After speaking with Sarah and Jen, I felt I had made the right decision to stay here. They were so pleasant and caring on the phone. I appreciate that this house is available for me and my brother. The distance you are from the hospital worked out for us. I am not comfortable driving in unfamiliar areas. My brother doesn’t see signs very well. So, he drives, I read the signs! During my stay, I have met other guests that have stayed here and they speak so highly and with such gratitude for the house. We are so appreciative of the staff and the accommodations of Sarah’s Guest House. Thank you so very much! God bless all of you.” Sylvester and Annie, Chino, CA & Madison, IL “What a clean, caring, well-run friendly place! We thank you for accommodating us on such short notice. In spite of sever PTSD, my husband felt comfortable here - which is not an easy feat! Thank you does not seem like a strong enough sentiment. To the founder, supporters, volunteers and staff of this special place - WELL DONE!! “ Judy and Ray
It is hard for us not to get close to guests that stay with us for a long time. One couple who has stayed with us since 2008 for over 118 nights is Donna and Scott of Johnson City. In August, Scott lost a tough, relentless and courageous battle against cancer. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Donna and their family. Here is a letter from Donna earlier in the year:
“Thank you for letting us stay. It is like coming home for me. Scott has been sick for many years and Upstate Hospital is the best place for treatment for him. This would not be possible without the help of Sarah House. We are retired and hotels are so expensive. I love seeing all the ladies who work here. They always make me feel better and have such a good outlook on things. Scott is going through chemotherapy right now, with surgery to follow. Knowing that I have a place to stay is such a big help through our journey. Thanks so much. God Bless you all.” Donna R. Donna made many friends at Sarah’s Guest House and helped others get through very difficult times. Again, our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Journal entry written by guest Rick of Rochester: Where has all the time gone? Here I sit early Sunday morning with not a worry in the world. It has been over 43 days since our auto accident on the NYS Thruway. This is my last night here because Sunday night, I will stay in the hospital that saved my wife’s life. Early Monday morning, a team will whisk us away by ambulance to Hancock Airport for a medical flight to Denver, Colorado. My wife Betsy will be treated at Craig Hospital that specializes in spinal cord rehabilitation. It is our hope that she will learn how to talk again and possibly walk some day. Thanks to you the last 43 days were somewhat routine for me. My future is unknown, my wife’s future is unknown, but I believe with all my heart that things will be OK. I have a purpose in life and that is to be happy and content, and that’s what I will continue to be. The friends, family and people in my life have helped me to keep it that way. There is more good out there than I ever realized. I love you all at Sarah’s Guest House. I may return to Rochester someday, but Syracuse is my new home away from home. I wonder if Denver can top this. Rick S. Rick, we really enjoyed having you at our “home”. Our best wishes for your next journey and Betsy’s recovery. Jen & all
Volunteer News: DONOR NEWS:
Event: We will be hosting our annual volunteer luncheon & training session again this fall: Date: Saturday, October 22nd Time: Noon - 3:00 p.m. Location: Onondaga Public Library 4840 W Seneca Turnpike What: Lunch and presentations Note: Due to limited space, we can only accept the first 50 RSVPs. You are welcome to bring anyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer at SGH! New volunteers:
Kathy Fanella Teri Lore Francine O’Donnell Joyce Reap Dan Schantz Lee Pomeroy Eric Merson Cathy Watt Upstate Orthopedics staff Amanda Tewksbury and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Ava & Makayalla Farina California bound volunteer:
Kathy Bartell has been volunteering for years at Sarah’s Guest House, making delicious soups and vegetarian meals for our guests. She has donated countless pieces of upcycled whimsical pieces of furniture, jewelry, purses, all made by hand. Her husband has also contributed by donating framed photos that he has taken over the years. She recently moved to California with her family to start a new job and a new chapter in her life. We miss her like crazy, and I hope she realizes what an asset she has been to our mission. Thanks Kathy! Volunteers needed:
meal makers drivers desperately need one or two people to mow the lawn and care for the property committee people to solicit auction items for our event in April housekeepers to help out on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday for 2 hours
Please call Susie at 315-475-1747 if you can help.
Have you seen our commercial? This is courtesy of the Central New York Community Foundation and in part by Patrick Mooney of Mooney Marketing. We are hoping to reach everyone who needs a place to stay while visiting our local CNY hospitals. The MG Club of Syracuse gave us a check in the amount of $1,500 - the proceeds from their very successful EuroCar show at Lorenzo in Cazenovia in June. Pictured below, Director Jen Coman accepted the check from car club prez Mike Mastracco and Don Nelson (below). We have received a grant for $3,500 from TJX stores. They have been supporting us since opening their Destiny location three years ago. Volunteer Barbie Hartman and her husband Jim recently moved to North Carolina. They sold some of their artwork and donated the proceeds to SGH. The Saint Agatha, Boeheim and Pomeroy Foundations continue to support our cancer patients and their families. We are grateful for those who are remembering our mission in their wills. We recently learned that a local gentleman has left 10% of his estate to us. This alone will exceed what we earn at our signature event! Jackson Craig, a sophomore at West Genesee school sponsored an ad for SGH in the soccer program. Thanks Jack! TO ALL DONORS: ON BEHALF OF THE BOARD, STAFF & VOLUNTEERS AND ESPECIALLY OUR GUESTS, Thank you!
2016 Board of Directors Sean Finnerty, President Josh Werbeck, Vice President Bill Michalski, Treasurer Mark Banick, Secretary Honorable James Cecile Margaret Cassady Laurie Fegley Richard Kilburg Carol Smith Jennifer Thornton Staff Jennifer Coman, Executive Director Sarah Valenti, Coordinator Susie Schanz, Guest Services Associate Kim Snow, Housekeeping, Guest Services Paul Wrobel, Accounting 3
Sarah’s Guest House Golf Tournament Once again, the Pompey Club outdid itself this year - we had a lovely day of golf, fun and food on July 24th. We raised nearly $26,000 for our mission. Thanks to all who came out and volunteered, golfed, had dinner with us. Special thanks to Stan Gorman and his crew. It was truly a great day. Results: 1st place: Shannon Flood’s team with a 56! Women: Kathy Harter’s team Mixed: Shute/Colburn team 2nd place: Bill Michalski’s team Women: Carol Smith’s team Mixed: Marybeth Rein’s team 3rd place in a tie-breaker: the Brienzi team Closest to the pin (W) Lee Pomeroy (M) Rick Brienzi Longest Drive (W) Dede Haefle (M) Matt Gardner Skins: Flood eagle on 7, Flood eagle on 11 and Brown eagle on 12 Pat Baker won the 50/50 $437.00 Putting contest: 5 way split Brian Johnson, Brian Kelly, Mike Shute, Chris Rein and Dustin Matthews
The Committee: Sean Finnerty, Chairperson Bill Michalski Jim Cecile Josh Werbeck Mike Shute Sarah Valenti Jen Coman Numbers: 100 Golfers 18 Dinners 15 Volunteers Each year this tournament is held to benefit Sarah’s Guest House in memory and honor of Bill Johnson and family and Fred Eisenberg and family. Thanks again all.
GOOD NEWS! Welcome Susie Schantz! Susie is our noon - evening Guest Service Associate. She will help guests navigate their way to Sarah’s Guest House and welcome them when they arrive. She is also coordinating guest volunteer transportation and meals, as well as helping out with office and event projects. Susie was with Famous Artists and the Oncenter Complex for the past 30 years. We are so glad to have her and husband Dan on board with us. Pictured: Susie and Dan Shantz, Nancy Wolcott, Kathy Fanella and Hannah TERRIBLE, ROTTEN NO-GOOD (HEART) BREAKING NEWS: It is hard for me to write this right now, as I just found out that our Sarah Valenti will be moving on to a full time position at Syracuse University’s Law School. While at the present moment maybe 1% of me is delighted for her to have this opportunity, Our hearts are broken. Those of you who have had the pleasure to work with, or just be around Sarah know that she is one of a kind. She has an exceptional work ethic, an extraordinary passion for our mission and a sense of compassion that she has shared with thousands of guests and volunteers since she started in 2013. She came to Sarah’s Guest House as a volunteer in early 2013. She enthusiastically helped Kim clean the house, cooked and chatted with guests and volunteers along the way. It was a couple of months before she shared with me the reason for wanting to help out. 10 years prior, she and her husband Paul had a baby who was born with complications. They stayed at a Ronald McDonald House in Rochester for 5 weeks before their son Dante passed. She doesn’t know what she would have done without the comforts that the hospital hospitality house offered. Sarah has a wonderful family that includes Paul and two beautiful children, Izabella and Roman who have become part of the Sarah’s Guest House family. She has also brought her parents and her in-laws to help at various events so it has become quite an extended family - this Valenti/ Edlund/Smith/Sarah’s Guest House clan. While I know there is a divine power that watches over this house, and I need not worry about filling the position because we are always taken care of, and things have a way of working out, I cannot begin to imagine Sarah’s Guest House without Sarah. Personally, she has been my rock. Going through cancer, my mom’s illness and the fears that come along with the responsibility of leading an important mission like ours has been made easier with her at my side. It is a tad cliché of me to say this, but the truth is I am a better person because of her. Thank you for reminding me always that “the sun will come out tomorrow”. Sarah, we all love you and appreciate every little thing that you have done for Sarah’s Guest House and everyone you have touched here. Please keep your promise to stay near. Archie’s Army is recruiting! This little fella Archie is battling cancer. I know Sarah’s Guest House supporters have special prayer powers. Can you add Archie and his Mom Emily, Dad Chris and sister Violet to your prayer lists? Thanks friends! 5
Sarah’s Guest House “lodging for patients and families” 100 Roberts Avenue Suite 10 Syracuse, New York 13207
Sarah’s Guest House Needs:
Tissue packets Laundry Soap Fabric Softener Keurig K Cups - regular and decaf Bottled Water Paper Towels Toilet Paper GE Light Bulbs Hotel sized Toiletries Stamps New winter gloves/mittens Umbrellas
PAID Permit No. 1167 Syracuse, NY
Big Announcement! Save the date! Plan to Join us at the newly renovated Marriott Syracuse Hotel (formerly Hotel Syracuse) for our annual “Gala of Giving”
Drivers Housekeepers Meal Makers 1 or 2 people to mow lawn Event volunteers Event sponsors
Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage
Join Honorary Chairman Dr. Jeffrey Bogart along with Committee Chairs Mark Banick and Carol Smith on
Friday, April 28th, 2017 Featuring delicious food, fine auction items and the music of Primetime
Join the fun now! Become a sponsor! Join our committee! Contact Jen - firstname.lastname@example.org or Sarah at email@example.com
More dates to save!
Volunteer Training and Celebration - Saturday 10/22 Noon-3:00 Celebrity Bartender night - Blarney Stone Wednesday 11/2 6-9 p.m. Gannon’s Isle - Support a Veteran at SGH Thursday 11/10 6-8 p.m.