SCN Volunteers Bring Joy and Accessibility to Willisburg Home

Posted by Kacie Emmerson

March 27, 2024

Shalmadene Flowers beams as her faithful canine companion, Shadow, prances back and forth in the small yard of her Willisburg home. Thanks to the generosity of SCN volunteers, a simple cable run now grants Shadow the freedom to roam safely within the confines of the property. 

“He will learn,” Flowers said, sitting at a picnic table and watching the dog navigate the tether. For Flowers, this gesture extends beyond practicality; it symbolizes an act of care and compassion from the volunteers who have helped make her home more comfortable. 

Volunteer Rob Schwalm of Maryland works on painting the interior of Shalmadene Flowers’ home in Willisburg.

A native of Belize, Flowers immigrated to the United States in the mid-1990s to pursue a brighter future for herself and her children. After initially residing in Chicago, the allure of a rural lifestyle drew her to Kentucky, where she could be closer to her grandchildren. She found a piece of property just outside Willisburg and purchased a used manufactured home to place on the land. 

“I love it out here,” she said. “It’s open. The atmosphere is different from the city.” 

Shalmadene Flowers peers around her old garden shed to see a new shed assembled closer to her home for more accessible storage.

Sipping a cup of hot tea and chatting with the volunteers, Flowers’ wooded acreage’s steep decline offers a spectacular rural view. She has lived in the home for three years, but the uneven terrain is less than ideal for her limited mobility. 

Previously, Flowers reached out to Habitat for Humanity seeking assistance in making her home more accessible. Through that organization, she was referred to the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.

“She needed a deck on the back of the trailer since it is a very hilly piece of property,” explained Sister Luke Boiarski, director of the SCN Lay Mission Volunteer Program, who was on site with volunteers last week. “The deck was a safety issue as well as a place to relax and enjoy nature.” 

Spearheading a collaborative effort between local SCN volunteers and visiting parishioners from St. John’s Parish in Hollywood, Maryland, Sister Luke orchestrated the construction of a 10’ by 12’ deck, providing Flowers and Shadow with an outdoor retreat.

Longtime local volunteer David White power washes the side of Shalmadene Flowers’ home in Willisburg while he and other volunteers make improvements to the property.

In addition to the deck, the volunteers undertook a multitude of projects, including assembling a tool shed, pouring gravel around the home to smooth the entryway, power washing the exterior, and even plastering and painting interior walls. While there is still some work to be done, the recent repairs have greatly enhanced the usability of the space.

Flowers expressed her heartfelt appreciation for the work during a visit to the Nazareth Motherhouse Campus on Friday, where she shared her gratitude with the Sisters. “I am extremely thankful for the team. They were helpful in helping me get into my home and fixing it up,” Flowers said. “Thanks to everyone who made it possible and made my home comfortable.” 

Shalmadene Flowers and Sister Luke Boiarski during a recent visit to Nazareth Motherhouse Campus.

Beyond the tangible improvements to the home, bonds were also formed during the volunteer project.

“We have a saying: ‘It is about building relationships as well as building or repairing homes,’” Sister Luke said. “All of us fell in love with Shalmadene. I know this relationship will continue as Shalmadene promised to make the local volunteers some Belizean food, and we can enjoy it together on her deck out back.” 

To learn more about the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Volunteer Program and how you can get involved, visit nazareth.org/volunteer. Join us in building a brighter, more connected world, one act of service at a time.

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1 Comment

  1. Mary Gene Frank

    Thanks to all who made this possible. What a wonderful project.

    Reply

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