St. Joseph Altar Celebration at Ollie Steele
Residents, team members and volunteers at Ollie Steele Burden Manor look forward to building a St. Joseph's Altar each year. The tradition itself began as far back as the Middle Ages in Sicily in gratitude to St. Joseph for answering prayers for deliverance from famine. The altar is constructed with three tiers representing the Holy Trinity and typically includes flowers, candles, especially prepared handmade Italian cakes and cookies as well as meatless dishes.
Theresa Gex, Ollie Steele Volunteer, has been a part of preparing St. Joseph's Altar's all of her life. She shares the tradition with her daughter Linda Fredericks. The mother-daughter team began preparing the Ollie Steel St. Joseph's Altar when Theresa's husband and Linda's father, Bill Gex, became a resident at Ollie Steele in 2001.
In the first year there was a small group of volunteers who worked in Linda's kitchen. "We were a small group," remembers Theresa. "I had to teach everyone how to roll the dough. But now we have so many volunteers, we can't all fit in one kitchen."
This year, 25 volunteers worked for two days preparing the St. Joseph's Altar that was presented and blessed at Ollie Steele Burden Manor on March 20, 2012. The volunteers worked in the new neighborhood café's at Ollie Steele. "We worked for two days in three oversized kitchens and we used the library as our staging area," said Theresa. "It was great to work at the facility in the renovated space. The residents were so excited it was hard to make them wait until the Altar was blessed before enjoying the treats."
Ollie Steele recently completed renovations creating a culture change for the nursing home. The changes allow residents greater control of their daily lives and include newly renovated common area fitted with TVs, fireplaces and four full-sized kitchens.
"Dad passed away more than five years ago, but mom and I continue to volunteer here and volunteer to prepare the Altar," said Linda Fredericks. "There are so many dedicated volunteers that we are thankful for. This has become a tradition for all of us."