How a long-forgotten act led to a job interview and a special reunion at this year’s Associates’ Christmas Party.

BY SR. RICCA DIMALIBOT, CCVI

The Associates’ Christmas Party is one of the year’s highlights at VDM when I get the delightful chance to see the Associates in their element! Who wouldn’t enjoy setting aside drab uniforms in favor of jolly Christmas clothes? It’s beautiful to see their personalities shining through even though the Associates’ amazing transformation makes them almost unrecognizable! Our celebration on December 9th was different though, as expected, yet I still imagined the cheerful smiles behind all the colorful masks.

I was filled with gratitude in acknowledging our 20 service award recipients this year who were being honored for completing a milestone anniversary ranging from 5 to 35 years. Our Associates’ dedication and love will continue to hold a special place in our hearts for years to come. Amid the Christmas greetings, posing for pictures, spatial distancing, and “Grab & Go” boxed lunch pick-up, one Associate, in particular, who was being honored on her 10-year anniversary with us excitedly shared with me how she came to work at Villa de Matel.

 Ten years ago, Samantha McKinney, a Certified Nursing Assistant, lost her job and found herself in need. She went to MI Lewis Social Service Center in Dickinson to pick-up some donated food, clothing and other goods for her family. Among the donations she chose were items from CHRISTUS Health and Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word bearing our logos. Her friend, who knew she was looking for a job, mentioned there was a vacant position at VDM posted on MI Lewis’s bulletin board. She knew it would be a long drive, but she badly needed the work.

No one could remember which Sister brought the donated items and posted the job at the Services Center. All Samantha was told was that they came from the “Sister from Dickinson.” As she explained, I searched my memory for who that might have been. Then I realized it had to have been me! “But I’m the only sister in Dickinson. That would have been me!” I told her. After the initial shock, both of us were incredulous that after 10 years our paths had crossed allowing us to discover how we were connected. CHRISTUS Point of Light Clinic, where I have been ministering for almost 12 years, has a long, fruitful relationship with MI Lewis center that is still going strong.

But the story has another amazing twist. When Samantha came to VDM for her job interview a decade ago, she wore the very shirt and carried the briefcase with our logo that she selected at MI Lewis, completely unaware of how they were connected with the Sisters at VDM. As she drove in, she chanced upon Sr. Frederick in a wheelchair and asked her for directions to her interview site. As she was leaving an hour or so later, she again ran into Sr. Frederick on her way out, enthusiastically telling her, “I got the job!” Sr. Frederick responded, “I knew you would! You already got all the stuff!”

Samantha warmly remembers the beginning of her 10-year journey that brought her here with us. Her years of service are a testament to her commitment and loyalty. Her story is also a testament to how simple and easily forgotten acts continue to impact our lives and connect us to one another.

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