May 29 2022

Last week we were blessed with a visit from our dear friend, Sister Isaac. I met Sister for the first time in September of 2005 at a parish meeting; we gathered to see how we, as a parish, could help the victims of Hurrricane Katrina. After the meeting, I introduced myself to Sister. I told her I had just taken early retirement and I was looking for some volunteer opportunities. I had learned of Sister through a quilting friend, Lise King, who had told me about Tileston Outreach and what a great person Sister was – and that she was a quilter! Sister invited me to stop into Outreach one morning to check things out.

I dropped in the next morning. I had no idea of the extent of her work. I also was shocked at how great a need there was for the work she was doing. I was naively unaware of the poverty issues in our area. On that first day, Lise gave me a tour of the place and put me to work folding clothes. A short while later, she pulled me over to the food area to fill some bags that were needed. Next, she asked me to go up front and interview one of our guests, and gather the items they needed. By the end of the morning, I was hooked! I even stayed around after the volunteers left and did a little cleaning. What a wonderful place I had found that would give me purpose in my retirement years! There was no need for me to seek out any other volunteer opportunities – I had found the right one for me. Initially, I worked three days a week. My main responsibility was the housewares area. I worked closely with Paul Wilkes on our Katrina project, filling a moving van with material goods that were sent to New Orleans. Over the years, I took on the furniture program and worked closely with Sister on our holiday projects. When Sister was introduced to new technology of quickbooks, tablets and smartphones, I was her technical assistant.

In 2016, when Sister turned 80, she decided it was time to retire to ‘home’ at Lynwood in Rhinebeck NY. Father Bob re-named our ministry to The Sister Isaac Center in honor of the woman that started it all in the janitor’s closet in the mid 1980’s. A few days before Christmas 2016, Sister finished her chore of preparing the food baskets for our Christmas project, then she loaded up her van and took off to New York in time for the holidays with her community. She left Outreach in my hands knowing there was a great team of volunteers to support me. It’s her spirit that keeps us all going, continuing her work as best we can. Don’t be fooled when I said she retired … she just retired from this job – she’s busy as a bee up north. It was great to have her with us for a week and she was thrilled to be able to reunite with so many friends. Till we meet again.