Before heading out to the grocery store, Valerie Loeppky checks her long list: almond milk, frozen berries, chicken pot pie, and veggie straws are among the items she’ll pick up today. While it might seem like a typical shopping list to some, it’s unique to Valerie because she isn’t shopping for her own family, she’s shopping for the children who are staying at Matthew’s House.
Matthew’s House provides quality respite care for children who have complex care needs so that their families can get the rest they deserve. Valerie has been volunteering here for two years, doing the weekly grocery shop for the children who are visiting each week. She loves what she does.
“I appreciate the wide scope of opportunities available to help so that you can use your skills in an area that is of interest to you,” she says.
Along with weekly grocery shopping, Valerie also volunteers with the resource development department at fundraising events. She enjoys meeting people and raising awareness about this important resource in the community.
Valerie is motivated by a unique understanding of the challenges experienced by the families whose children visit Matthew’s House. She and her family cared for her husband at home for many years when he became sick and his illness required 24/7 care. While they had some help during the day, the only true respite they received was when he required hospitalization when complications occurred. This perspective has helped Valerie empathize with parents.
“Respite is crucial,” she says. “It allows parents to give some extra attention to their other children, to take the opportunity to enjoy a little holiday or to simply take care of themselves so that when their child returns home, they are healthy themselves and able to continue caring for their child with compassion and love, and not be burdened by exhaustion.”
Wendy Toohey, the manager at Matthew’s House, says Valerie is a valued member of their team.
“She always comes with a cheerful attitude and always gives a big hug,” Wendy says. “She loves to see that she’s making a difference.”
For those who are wondering what they might do as a volunteer, Valerie says that all one needs to remember is that Matthew’s House is just that: a house.
“So if you think about what needs doing at your house, they could probably use your help with that at Matthew’s House,” she says.
The resource development team also appreciates her commitment. Laura Ullock, the resource development assistant for Matthew’s House, says Valerie is the kind of person who finds the jobs that need doing and dives right in.
“She is a huge help because she understands how events are supposed to run and what needs to be done to make everything go smoothly,” Laura says. “We love having her as part of our team.”
For Valerie, being part of a team effort that supports a valuable resource in the community is a rewarding experience.
“Matthew’s House is like a family in that it has such a variety of ways help is needed,” she says. “Each job is important and appreciated and you know that by the number of hugs you receive.”