Last luncheon for St. Joseph Villa Volunteers

Friday, Oct. 05, 2018
Last luncheon for St. Joseph Villa Volunteers + Enlarge
By Linda Petersen
Intermountain Catholic

SALT LAKE CITY—St. Joseph Villa will hold its annual volunteer luncheon Saturday, Oct. 27. The event will be simpler than in past years, with a social hour, a drawing for gift cards, a bake sale and the lunch itself, Volunteer Publicity Chairman Eileen Benavidez said. Funds raised will help provide residents with eyeglasses, dentures and help pay for other needs they may have that are not covered by insurance.

This luncheon will be bittersweet for many residents and volunteers – it will be the last for the 59-year-old volunteer organization, which will disband in December.

Currently there are 25 volunteers who regularly perform service at the Villa, including running games and the gift shop, leading singalongs, playing the piano, providing centerpieces and decorations and helping at Christmas and residents’ birthday parties and activities.

However, some of those volunteers are now in their 90s, and their health is failing. A six-month-long recruitment drive earlier this year failed to bring in any new people.

“We did not get one single response,” St. Joseph’s Villa Volunteers President Mardell Fayer said. “We were trying to make it to our 60th year but that’s just not going to happen.”

On Dec. 27, the group will formally rescind its bylaws and disband.

Still, the volunteers are determined to remain positive until the end. With a theme of “Memories,” the luncheon will be a time for volunteers, staff and residents to look back on all that the volunteers have accomplished in the years they have been helping out at St. Joseph’s.

The Villa was founded in 1947 after Bishop Duane G. Hunt, hoping to establish a home for the aged and infirm in Salt Lake City, had difficulty finding a religious order willing to take on the task. It is said that the bishop had a dream about the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word and the next day called the motherhouse in Houston, Texas and he invited them to come to Salt Lake City. Shortly after, the sisters agreed to set up a home; it was named St. Joseph Villa because it was thought the title gave the institution more distinction and dignity than the word “home.”

In May 1947 the sisters purchased a house at 1910 South 500 East and the diocese paid one third of the cost for the facility.  The facility was transferred to the non-profit group CHRISTUS in 1994. Over the years, the number of sisters ministering at the facility gradually decreased. By 2007, just two sisters remained at the Villa.

In 2011, it was sold to the for-profit group Ensign and the remaining sisters moved to their mother house in Texas.

While the Villa is no longer formally affiliated with the Church, several Catholic priests and monks from the former Trappist monastery in Huntsville are residents there.

WHAT: St. Joseph Villa Volunteer Fall Luncheon

WHEN: Saturday, October 27; social hour begins at 11:30 a.m.; luncheon and entertainment at 12:30 p.m.

WHERE: St. Ambrose Social Center,1975 South 2300 East, Salt Lake City

Tickets: $25; Contact Maxine Giovacchini at 801-582-2282, or stop by the St. Joseph Villa Gift Shop.

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