“I don't think people appreciate how much they need joy.”
Giving Tuesday began in 2012 to counterbalance the rampant consumerism that has crept into our culture with the shopping frenzy known as “Black Friday.”
Giving Tuesday is the perfect opportunity to resist our tendency to accumulate "stuff" by finding creative ways to give one another the priceless, intangible things every person needs: care, joy, love, and connection.
While you decide how best to support the causes you believe in this Giving Tuesday, read a story about a sister that gives “Living Hope” for people that feel separated from the world.
"You can do so much with a card!"
~ Sister Mary Francella Vyverman, OP
Sister Mary Francella has been a pastoral minister for decades. Her experiences taught her how important the littlest gestures are for people who feel isolated and alone.
That's why she encourages you to send cards to your extended family, people you know who are homebound, and people in nursing homes. If you're feeling anxious and isolated, imagine how those without close friends and family feel during this holiday season.
Since the beginning of the pandemic lock-down in March, Sister Francella has been unable to return to her ministry as hospital and home visitor for Cathedral Parish. But that has not kept her from giving joy to those in need!
"We knew that even though we couldn't visit, we could continue to reach out to our parishioners in different nursing homes.," she said. "That was fine, but we weren't happy. We wanted to do more. So, we did. Over the weeks, over the months, we've continued to send people something to put a smile on their faces, to give greater joy, to decorate their room."
She and her team of volunteers have had help. For the past several months, individuals have been donating their time and craft supplies, fueling Sister Francella's outreach and unleashing a constant flow of smiles, stories, and prayers to share with people in need of joy during this very lonely time in our nation's history.
Sister Mary Francella Vyverman, OP (right) and Betty Waymire (left) prepare to send joy to area residents living in retirement homes.
Sister Francella and her team of volunteers contacted Catholic schools and area nursing homes to get more people involved. "It has turned into a fabulous, fabulous situation." Sister Francella said. She and the volunteers feel they are helping make a difficult situation better by delivering smiles to local nursing homes, despite how difficult things are right now.
"We have, over all these months, touched well over four hundred people," she said.
Sister Francella wants you to bring a smile to the face of someone you love, or a stranger, too. "I just would urge people to take time, and send a note, to send a card, to send a smile. Many of our notes, cards and pictures have a small saying: 'We love you.'"
She encourages her volunteers and students to make these connections because people right now are suffering. Giving joy is always needed, but unexpected joy can truly make a positive change when the recipient needs it most.
Photo: Volunteer Betty Waymire, wearing her signature cat mask, awaits Sister Francella Vyverman in the entryway of Sacred Heart Convent to pick up a collection of handmade posters for distribution to residents of Springfield area retirement homes.
Art projects St. Aloysius Catholic School students made for patients at Villa East.
Who is benefiting from this ministry of joy?
- Regency Care
- Heritage Health
- Concordia Village
- The Villas Senior Care Community
- St. Joseph's Nursing Home
- Individuals in their homes
- Aperion Care
- Capitol Care Center
More Moments of Joy
Sister Mary Francella Vyverman talked about the children's creative process. “The school children are making things for the nursing homes: cards, postcards, you name it. It’s like a ministry within a ministry. They all have something to give. People especially love handmade gifts from children. The people at the nursing homes are so down and deflated. They need joy. Everything we are doing is something to bring joy. And, they love it!”
“Betty has been so wonderful," said Sister Mary Francella. "We have fun looking at what we bring to the people in the nursing homes. Some are half finished. She will take them home and add a little this and add a little that. It’s beautiful!”
“A lot of people in our (Dominican Sisters) community know what we are doing. Some see it as a real gift. Until such time as we can get back to doing things, we can make people happy doing this. What more can we say?”
A Conversation with Joy-Givers
Sister Mary Francella Vyverman, OP: The schools are making things for the nursing homes: cards, postcards—you name it.
It's like a ministry within a ministry.
Sister Mary Francella Vyverman, OP: When it all started March 12th one particular church said: "We'd be happy to help out, and they did help out, one time.
"I don't think people appreciate how much they need joy."
Betty Waymire: Some of the people we serve come from parishes. We have certain people that call and say their family is homebound or in a nursing home or something like that. And so we have already been doing things for them since we couldn't visit them all. We were doing things for them and delivering gifts. That's when people from Heritage Health told us they had people who weren't getting anything. They asked us if we could do something about that.
That's when we decided to engage the schools and other people. Because we can't possibly make—I mean even at Concordia there was 87 people there that would enjoy having something. There's no way we could do that ourselves, but one school of children in grades kindergarten through eighth grade, could easily produce 87 little cards or posters or something. We just distribute those among those people for a smile.
Betty Waymire: If you know somebody that's in a nursing home, take the time to send a letter or send a note at least once a month instead of just saying, "Well, we can't get to them, so there's nothing we can do. I know there's a lot of people who have family members in nursing homes. I don't know why they're not sending them notes or letters and things like that. So, they could just do that.
Sister Mary Francella Vyverman, OP: One family recently said to me: "I can't go to the city, so I can't do anything." I said, "Sir, he's your father. Send him a card. Send him a note. Send him anything. Let him know that you care.”
Betty Waymire: Send an old picture of the family, just something. You don’t have to go through us. It is just family members helping each other out. I don’t think they realize that’s all they have to do.
An Advent & Holiday to ‘Be’ List for Giving Tuesday
Here are seven things you can be—not do—to share Living Hope on Giving Tuesday, or any day.
- Be kind.
- Be gentle.
- Be welcoming.
- Be a good listener.
- Be compassionate.
- Be a catalyst. Invite a friend to experience the Springfield Dominican mission For the Life of the World.
- Be a hope-maker! Check out our “Living Hope” page and share the story.
If you do (or "be"!) any of these, let us know by leaving a comment below—but don’t tell us what you did. That should remain your secret.
Instead, tell us what your act of kindness did for you: your heart, your spirit, your day.
Thanks for making a gentler, kinder world!
Don't forget to download your FREE printable greeting card today to help spread a little extra joy this year.