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Tis the Seaon to Give to Others

December 23rd, 2015

“Tis the Season”—this is the phrase that signifies a time when people give to others, sometimes in the form of gifts and other times in the form of care and compassion. 

For Joanie Gallo, a long-time resident at St. Catherine of Siena Nursing and Rehabilitation Care Center, care and compassion for the children of Angela’s House influenced her to spread the gift of awareness and philanthropy. 

Angela’s House, a not-for-profit organization, established in 1992, was created to offer families and professionals an agency to call to help medically frail children and their families. The organization actively identifies families caring for children who have a severe disability or medical condition, and helps obtain supportive services to improve their quality of life. 

Joanie was moved to help raise awareness and funds for Angela’s House through an interaction with St. Catherine’s Rehabilitation Clerk Christina Spano. 

Christina was a part of a special committee for a benefit concert to support Angela’s House during the fall. “Joanie heard me talking about collecting money around the time of the event and she wanted to help raise money for the children of Angela’s House, whom she feels are just like her,” said Christina. 

What makes Joanie’s gift of awareness even more special is that she has cerebral palsy, and has needed complex medical care like many of the children at Angela’s House. Her act of kindness took more effort than most. For each donation Joanie secured for the children of Angela’s House, she had to use a customized board to communicate with other residents, staff and 

visitors at the nursing home. Christina explained that “Joanie can’t speak, she uses her board—she went around asking people using a flyer that I shared with her.

Together, in support of the benefit concert, Joanie and Christina raised $1003.00 for Angela’s House. However, Christina was surprised to learn that though the efforts to support the concert had ended, Joanie’s efforts to support the children of Angela’s House had only just begun. 

“She came to me, smiling ear to ear” explained Christina, when describing Joanie’s success in collecting $454.00 on her own, well after the fundraising event. 

Photo (L-R): St. Catherine’s Rehabilitation Clerk Christina Spano, Nursing Home Resident Joanie Gallo and Executive Director of Angela’s House Bob Policastro.

Executive Director of Angela’s House, Bob Policastro, was deeply moved by Joanie. “For Joanie to take to the spirit of what we do—knowing what she probably has been through in her life, and still wanting to help other children—she is not only paying it forward, she is a remarkable inspiration.” Mr. Policastro came to the nursing home to meet Joanie and gave her a gift in 

return—a symbol of hope—the Angela’s House angel pin. Joanie now proudly displays it on her wheelchair dashboard.

Joanie undoubtedly is one of the most beloved residents at St. Catherine of Siena Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Care Center and her efforts have left a lasting impression on Christina. “We only get one life—what is it to be kind, what is it to be compassionate—to give of yourself and help other people—in this case, it is children—children who are not able to go out and live 

a normal and healthy life.” Not only has Joanie touched the heart of Christina, but she stands to teach others that the spirit of kindness can forever impact the lives of others.

During the holidays, as you celebrate the season of hope, the season of giving, remember Joanie’s extraordinary efforts. If you are moved by Joanie’s spirit of care and compassion, think of ways you too can pay it forward and give back to others in need.

For more information about St. Catherine of Siena Nursing and Rehabilitation Care Center, please call (631) 870-3444.