Deb Stoner’s journey from book club volunteer to being the impetus behind St. Vincent Catholic Charities’ Sensory Integration Therapy Room showcases the power of transformational relationships at the agency.
Deb was immediately interested in volunteering when she heard her friend talk about the book club held at the STVCC Children’s Home.
“One of the reasons I volunteer is that we’re asked to be the hands and feet of Jesus,” Deb explained. “I’ve always wanted to work with kids.”
Each week, Deb joins a group of dedicated volunteers who bring snacks, share their lives with the young people, and find a common language as they explore the choices fictional characters face in the books they’re reading.
“A lot of the situations the characters in the books come up against are very applicable to everyday life,” she explained.
Power of Transformational Relationships
The transformational relationships forged in those sessions prompted Deb and her husband Don to become more deeply involved in STVCC by joining the Guardian Society.
While the Stoners’ financial support is important, Deb says she gets the greatest satisfaction from building relationships with the teens at the Children’s Home.
“The relational side is very important,” she explained. “I don’t think it would mean as much to me if I did not have a relationship with the people served.
“I’ve grown in my faith. Seeing these kids who have to deal with very adult situations, I pray that they will seek out God and find true peace in a relationship with Him.”
The Stoners provided the funds to build the Sensory Integration Room, which provides a setting for specialized therapy to help children grappling with sensory integration disorder.
An estimated 5% to 15% of children suffer from the inability to process normal sensory stimuli. For children from abusive or neglectful homes, the percentage is thought to be much higher. If not treated, the disorder can interfere with a child’s ability to read and cause other learning problems.
“Not too many facilities have a sensory room,” Deb explained. “We thought anything that would help the kids would be beneficial.”
Although the Stoners will be relocating to Atlanta, they are grateful to leave a lasting legacy at the Children’s Home.
The project will remain a tribute to their commitment to STVCC and the young people they came to know as volunteers and donors.