Hannah and Friends: Fostering Compassion

Image by Keith Williamson, on flickr.com.

Maureen was born to be a champion. Her dedication to serving people comes from a place of humility and compassion. She models a can-do spirit and fosters love in her every day life. Her work at Hannah and Friends has been instrumental in the lives of many. Here is her story:

I am the Director of Operations for Hannah and Friends in South Bend. The organization, founded by Maura and Charlie Weis, honors their daughter, Hannah, who is diagnosed with developmental delays. The organization fosters a campaign of “Awareness & Compassion” for kids and adults with different abilities. At Hannah and Friends, we say different abilities instead of disabilities because we feel that everyone has unique abilities to enrich a community.

I witness, firsthand, the special gifts and talents people with different abilities share with the world. They teach me about unconditional love and being kind to everyone I meet. Our participants do not look at a person and notice his or her differences, but instead they are accepting and welcoming to all. That is such an important lesson to learn, especially in today’s society. We now live in diverse communities with people of different backgrounds, religions, races, and beliefs. What a beautiful world we would live in, if we all were willing to accept and embrace our differences.

The work I am doing at Hannah and Friends is so important to me because I know I am making a difference at my job. Hannah and Friends has created a place where people with special needs can come and be themselves. They spend time with their peers without feeling judged or made fun of by those around them. Furthermore, the staff at Hannah and Friends is always raising the bar with creative, fun ways to improve the quality of life for kids and adults with different abilities. Earlier this year, we hosted an event called Lights, Camera, SHINE, where participants were invited to walk the runway and participate in a photo shoot. It was an opportunity for them to truly shine in the spotlight. It was beautiful to see their personalities show in front of the camera. My job is making me a better person. I am more accepting, patient and compassionate to the people in my life because of my experience working at Hannah and Friends.

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Interviewer and editor: Monica Murphy

Story by: Maureen Parsons

Photo: The Kids Stole the Show, by Keith Williamson via flickr.com.

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