A quarter of a century is a long time. For Mary and Greg Woolever, it has been a time of compassion, teaching, and making a difference. And for On With Life, it has been a time of celebrating people like the Woolevers who have
made an impact on our persons served.
Shortly after On With Life opened, the Woolevers began volunteering in prayer services. Twenty-five years later, they continue to show up with a different group of high school students each month. The students are part of the religious education program at Our Lady's Immaculate Heart Catholic Church in Ankeny where Mary and Greg are members.
Each session begins with introductions and and "The Welcome Song," the same song that has been sung every time. An inspirational reading is shared, everyone joins hands for the "Lord's Prayer," and a closing song such as "Amazing Grace" is sung. The Woolevers then turn facilitation over to Kim Reed, On With Life recreation therapist, who leads students andpersons served in an activity, such as games and crafts. Afterwards, students have a chance to discuss the experience with Kim.
"We emphasize to the kids that they are doing therapy," said Mary. "For instance, while playing card games, the persons served are picking out colors or numbers, holding the cards, making decisions, and working on attention and social interactions."
When asked why they volunteer at On With Life, Greg said, "We began because we were asked, but the religious education program greatly values these visits to On With Life, which is such a wonderful and unique place."
"Compassion for families struggling with brain injury is important to us," Mary added. "Brain injury can happen to anyone. Our values lead us to care for each other - we are all related."
The students are impacted as well. Greg said it is important to bring young people in so they get the message from their adult elders that "compassion matters." And does it ever. Especially 25 years of it.