Portraits of the jersey shore st marys place by the sea purpose calling founders

The Flu, a Calling, and St Mary’s Place by the Sea

(POTJS Note: This is part four of a four-part series on Mary’s Place by the Sea, Ocean Grove, a respite home for women who are being treated for cancer. Since 2009, nearly 8,000 women with cancer have been guests. Thanks to ongoing donations, there is no cost to the guests who stay. The stories this week are based on interviews conducted over the past weekend.)

Michele (Left): “I was home with the flu, and I was miserable. My kids kept poking me and asking, ‘Are you better? Can you get up?’ They couldn’t understand why I wasn’t able to do all of the things they were used to me doing. So I started obsessing and praying about it, and I saw Maria – our kids were in school together – and told her, ‘I don’t know if this makes any sense, but I want to create a place for women to go where they can just hit the pause button, because we are not giving ourselves permission to be sick or to heal.’

“She loved the idea, and with her background of being a Yogi and holistic, it seemed to be a perfect combination. So we started Mary’s Place by the Sea in 2009.

Maria: “It all grew from there by word mouth. Even though Maria and I have never had cancer, we had the perspective as women of how important it is to hit the pause button, and that harnessed in me personally a mission to help women have holistic healthcare while with us.

“We nurture in the women who stayed with us essential aspects of good health like good nutrition, oxygenating the blood, going outside for fresh air, meditation, all the things that are beneficial to a woman recovering from cancer. But we also care for their emotions and their hearts with counseling and give the women a safe place to share their feelings and process what they are experiencing.”

Maria: “We had a guest three years ago, who literally crawled up the stairs of our steps because she was so sick. She was so depressed, so angry. She came in weekly, as she was a local, and she became a part of Mary’s Place as a guest. One day when she came here, she was full of fluid in her face, and we knew she did not have much time left. But I also noticed that she had the most glorious, serene look on her face.

“I asked her, ‘How do you feel?’ And she told me, ‘I feel so much peace. I have joy in my heart, because you helped me work through every one of my relationships, and I am ready.’ She passed away two days later.

“At the funeral, her family came over to us and said, ‘You are from Mary’s Place.’ Then her daughter said, ‘Thank you so much. She had so much peace when she passed away. She really was ready to go.’ I realized at that point that even though not everyone is going to survive cancer, we can still create peace in their hearts.”

Michele: “But we couldn’t do it all by ourselves. We would pray and tell God we have the passion and desire to keep going, but we needed a lot of support and help. God definitely answered. We now have a core of over 120 active volunteers, a staff of 9, and everyone uses their talents and gifts in such beautiful ways.

“We are all on the same level ground here, working shoulder to shoulder, humbly serving others. It is incredible to see how kind and giving people really are. What we do It is a calling, really. We are so grateful every single day that we get to serve the women who come through the doors of Mary’s Place looking for care in the midst of the trials they face. Knowing that we can make a difference means the world to us.”

POTJS Note: If anyone would like to know more, please visit their website: https://www.marysplacebythesea.org/missionandhistory)

A blessing to women with cancer. A unique idea to give women battling chronic illnesses a place to go to rest, recover and pray. #inspire #inspirational #cancer #womencancer #portraitsofthejerseyshore

Join the Conversation on Facebook