Sister Marie Joseph Coomes, OSU: “We thank God for her every day.”

Sister Marie Joseph’s life took another unexpected turn in March 2006 when she answered an ad for the Audubon Area Community Services’ Senior Companion program. She was hired, went through orientation, and was assigned to three clients.

Sister Marie Joseph visits Allen and Louise twice a week. “She’s very special to us,” says Louise when asked about Sister Marie Joseph and her visits. “She’s a blessing to both of us. What she does, she does well. We’re thankful to have her. We thank God for her every day.”

Allen, a retired salesman, says, “I think she’s great. From the first day she came into our home she fit right in. She’s just like one of the family. We love her. She’s just one of us.”

Joining Sister Marie Joseph at the celebration of her 40th Jubilee were classmates, l. to r., Sisters Marie Michael Friedman, Barbara Jean Head, Mary Ellen Backes, Emma Anne Munsterman, Ann McGrew, Mary Henning, and Maureen Griner.

Client Hazel has similar feelings about Sister Marie Joseph and the visits she makes to her home. She says, “Not only is Sister Marie a blessing, she has also become a good friend. Because I’m not able to take care of my aging mother and my disabled daughter, Sister is a real comfort to me.”

Cathy Campbell is manager of the Audubon Area Community Services’ Senior Companion Program. Sister Marie Joseph is one of 86 volunteers Cathy oversees in the program. Allen, Louise and Hazel are three of 240 clients served by the volunteers in seven Green River Area counties.

As Cathy talked about the program, it became obvious Sister Marie Joseph is one of her favorite volunteers. When her name was mentioned, her face lit up, she broke into a smile and said, “Sister Marie is a gentle giant. She puts her clients before herself. There have been times when she’s gone to her clients even when she’s not feeling very well herself because she knew they needed her. She’s very dependable. Anything asked of her she does.”

Cathy continued, “Sister recently received special training to serve Hospice clients, which has expanded her service to the community.”

How has she enjoyed her new venture? Says Sister Marie Joseph, “When you realize you can’t keep up the pace you once kept up, there is a relief in a way, but yet you have the knowledge that you are helping people – and you are being helped also.”

Even though she is beyond retirement age, Sister Marie Joseph says she has no plans for retirement. “I enjoy what I’m doing,” she says. “As long as I have the health to tend to my clients’ needs, I will do so.”