Aug 22, 2017

Learning skills through volunteering

Carl Schreiber, Rob Willer and Patrick Havlin, from the St. Joseph's Home's day program, are volunteering with Lisa Gilpin and Mary Jean Waldbillig to package sweatshirts at Matthew 25 Ministries.
Patrick Havlin smiles wide and lets out a laugh when he pushes the big, white sweatshirt into the green plastic bin next to his wheelchair. It’s his main job for the afternoon, as he and two friends fill a volunteer shift at Matthew 25 Ministries.

Havlin, Carl Schreiber and Rob Willer, are part of a regular group of volunteers from St. Joseph Home’s day program. Usually, they mark out labels, tape boxes or secure lids for shipping, but this time they’re at station five and learning a new task.

“We’re trying to figure out who likes it and have been coming more consistently,” said Jackie Miller, assistant manager of the St. Joseph Home day program. “Usually it was one-on-one but now it’s more small groups.”

They’ve been coming to Matthew 25’s Blue Ash warehouse for about two years, after a retired nurse connected St. Joseph Home to the organization, which provides international humanitarian aid and disaster relief to millions around the world.

It’s July and the warehouse is warm, but the group gets right to work. Mary Jo Simpson programs a communication device to count to 10, the number of sweatshirts that go in each bin. Schreiber uses his head to tap the red button, keeping the group on task while also looking around the building, observing the two dozen volunteers at other stations. Nurse Lisa Gilpin grabs sweatshirts from a pile for Willer, who uses his hands to fold each one and put it on the table. Mary Jean Waldbillig, Schreiber’s guardian, places those sweatshirts in bins and moves full ones to another table.

“They see peers from other organizations doing similar tasks around the warehouse,” Simpson said. “I feel they know they’re doing something for others – a task that’s not for them – and they enjoy it.”
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