This week is National Volunteer Week, a time to celebrate the hard work and commitment of the amazing people graciously giving their time to support our mission and make a difference for people living with ALS and their families. Volunteers like Felicia Cleary and Hayley Noel.
If you ask their grandmother, Donna Cleary, the best thing about being a grandmother, her response typically includes, “It’s the chance to help my grandchildren become who they really are.” And two of Donna’s granddaughters, Felicia and Hayley, reflect those words in all they do. “Our loving grandmother taught us that helping others is so meaningful,” the girls say.
For more than ten years, Donna has worked with The ALS Association Greater Philadelphia Chapter as Director of Development. She has also been a constant advocate, supporting the chapter’s ALS families through fundraising initiatives, and a caring, compassionate ally throughout their ALS journey.
Hayley and Felicia joined Donna in her mission to help people impacted by ALS when they were young girls. Year after year they volunteer at the chapter’s holiday party for ALS families, at many Walk to Defeat ALS® events in Philadelphia, Hershey, and Berwick, and hold Facebook fundraisers to help support the chapter. From staffing the walk’s Team Captains’ Table and hanging banners to helping children create arts and crafts memories at the holiday party, they continuously bring enthusiasm, creativity, and a willingness to contribute wherever they’re needed.
Hayley is the eldest of five siblings in her household, and the responsibility that comes with this role serves her well as she volunteers. She exhibits many of the traits of oldest children – responsibility, confidence, and conscientiousness. And shopping is a passion. “There is always a package at my doorstep!” she laughs. Her skills, which are so important as she volunteers to set up Walk decorations or create fun crafts at events, will translate well into her career as a cosmetologist. Cosmetologists bring out the beauty in others and Hayley has achieved that for many years through her volunteering efforts.
Felicia is the eldest of three siblings and loves watching sports, going shopping (with her grandmother, Donna), and adventures of all kinds. Now in her second year of college, Felicia is on the path to becoming a radiation therapist. “This is the right job for me, I’ll be able to help people,” says Felicia, who embraces entering the medical field. While Donna is her “ALS connection,” Felicia’s volunteering prepared her well when her best friend’s grandmother was diagnosed with ALS. Felicia already knew about the iPad Mia’s grandmother used to communicate. Felicia is grateful that she has been able to volunteer at chapter events because, as she states, “Yes, it can be sad to see people struggling with ALS, but I get to see how happy they are because of all the great work and fundraising the Association does.”
Hayley and Felicia have long seen how much their grandmother strives to bring awareness and hope to the ALS community. They both echo each other’s words, “We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to volunteer with such a great organization and such great people!”
Today, these young women exemplify what The ALS Association so urgently needs – helping hands and helping hearts, graciously bestowing their life lessons on their volunteering efforts.
Special thanks to Donna, Felicia and Hayley and the team at The ALS Association Greater Philadelphia Chapter for allowing us to share their inspiring story with the ALS community. To learn more about volunteer opportunities with The ALS Association and how you can get involved in the fight against ALS, visit our website here.
To continue to follow stories from people in the ALS community and to learn more about the disease, follow our blog at als.org/blog.