Former Resident Healed by Volunteering

February 28, 2023

Long-time volunteer Philip and his sister Pat pose in front of our "General Store" sign at Paul's RunFor six years, a remarkable young man named Philip lived at Paul’s Run retirement community in Northeast Philadelphia, PA, with his mother, Helen, who joked that everyone knew her only as “Philip’s mother” because he was as popular as a celebrity.

As her health deteriorated in June 2021, Philip, who has Downs Syndrome, moved away to live with his sister, Mary. When Helen passed away in Dec. 2021, Philip suffered a double dose of grief.

Reconnecting After Loss

He not only lost his mother, he also lost his friends — the residents and employees who always made him feel welcomed and loved.

“His sadness was so profound that he could not bear to drive by Paul’s Run anytime we were in the car doing errands,” says Mary. “But one day we drove nearby, and Philip wanted to stop by and visit.”

“We ran into Bill, the Executive Director, as soon as we entered,” she continues. “Bill greeted Philip with a big smile and a fist pump and encouraged him to visit the Bistro and dining room, where many Culinary Team members and residents enthusiastically greeted Philip with broad smiles and high fives.”

Plans for a Homecoming

A short time later, the Executive Team at Paul’s Run and Mary hatched a plan whereby Philip would volunteer at the Paul’s Run General Store on Saturdays, along with long-time resident Sister Pat Downs. Sister Pat and Philip were already friends; now, they could volunteer together every week.

Sister Pat says, “We enjoy working together, sorting and counting candy that goes into bags, and organizing merchandise in between serving customers. Philip usually works from 11 a.m. until 12:45 p.m. on Saturdays, when Mary picks him up.”

She adds, “Mary is a beautiful and loving sibling who sees Philip’s potential and does all she can to help him achieve it.”

Gratitude for a Remarkable Healing

Mary claims, “Sister Pat and the entire Paul’s Run team have been so supportive of Philip. In the four months that he has been volunteering, his demeanor and overall mood have improved. He is less depressed now that he has reconnected with friends he made earlier.”

She also reports, “his communication and social skills have improved, and he reveals feelings to Sister Pat he might not tell me. Being there has helped assuage his grief.”

Mary adds, “I am so grateful to the Executive Team at Paul’s Run for making this opportunity possible for him.”