It started when Sister Patricia Touissaint needed a wheelchair van to transport her to a medical appointment. The $500 rental van got Sister Patricia to the appointment on time, but was 45 minutes late picking her up. She was drained by the time she got home. When she needed rides for daily treatments, the van wasn’t always available to rent.
Then, Sister Marita Aumiller’s brother died last winter and Sister Marita could not attend the funeral because she didn’t have the agility or stamina to pivot into a car.
“That was the last straw for me,” said Sister Mary Carol, local leader of St. Joseph Residence and the Baltimore Community.
“Sister Marita’s situation pushed me over the edge. I had to go in search of a wheelchair van for our aging Sisters,” she said.
Sister Mary Carol applied for a grant through SOAR! and received $25,000 to purchase a used wheelchair van for St. Joseph Residence. The vehicle was delivered to the convent on July 20.
Having the van will help Sisters maintain dignity and quality of life. It will allow them to get to medical appointments more easily and stay engaged in life.
Sister Marita has spent her religious life actively engaged in social services ministries. Her sociability suited her as a Group Mother to troubled girls, social services caseworker and Director of Social Services. When she worked in adoption programs, she developed warm personal relationships with the adoptive parents on the waiting list.
Sister Marita has lived and worked in Maryland, South Carolina and Pennsylvania. When she retired from adoption work, Sr. Marita returned to Baltimore, where she pursued a ministry of pastoral visiting, phone calls and correspondence. In her aging years, she bounced back from a broken hip but failed to outwit the arthritis that was slowing her down.
She needed knee replacements but was unable to have the surgery because of cardiac concerns. She is 94 years old and now in a wheelchair full-time. Getting into a car had become laborious and painful for her, which had curbed her zeal for going anywhere.
“Thank God for SOAR!” said Sister Mary Carol. Sister Patricia can travel to doctor’s appointments comfortably now and Sister Marita is once again looking forward to outings.
Mobility issues affect many people as they age and make it hard to do once simple things. SOAR! grants for items such as lift chairs, handrails and wheelchair vans can increase the independence of Sisters, Brothers and Priests. You can be a lifeline to them.