Monday 13 April, 2020
As we have been striving to continue moving in families who are currently in need of homes to “shelter in place”, we have been grateful for a committed staff team, willing to take extra time and precautions to ensure our community says safe and healthy. We also enlisted a bit of help from Board Member, Katy Bohuslav, and her family unit to set up the home. Katy, her husband, Thomas, and son, Jack came in with bandanas, put on fresh gloves, and disinfected the surfaces before leaving. Their college-age son, Will, participated virtually from his college town apartment.
After the apartment was all set up, Katy emailed us saying, “It’s been a LONG time since the Bohuslav’s have fixed up an apartment. It was good to be ‘home’. It was a cold, drizzly day but warm inside and we laughed a lot. I spent WAY too long working on shower curtain rings, but my plastic gloves kept getting hung up in them. Jack was great muscle, but at the last minute we decided to have Will stay in San Marcos where he’s been throughout the shelter at home. He joined us ‘virtually’ for a tour at the end. No one was out and about at the complex, and I hope we didn’t disturb anyone.”
Accompanying her words was a photo from their first family apartment set-up 17 years ago (see bottom of the page for photo). We are completely inspired by the photo and Bohuslav’s deep commitment to Saint Louise House families, so we had to ask more questions.
Q: How did you become involved with Saint Louise House?
Seventeen years ago, we answered an ad in a church bulletin for a couple of small Saint Louise House needs, a vacuum and a small tv. We’ve been involved ever since. Soon thereafter, after some volunteer training, we volunteered as caregivers for an infant whose mom was taking a college class. But it was a donation of Christmas gifts to a Saint Louise House family that made it our home.”
Q: What is your favorite Saint Louise House memory?
“Our family ‘adopted’ a Saint Louise House family’s holiday wishes early in the organization’s history when there were only 11 families living there instead of 40 like today. We arrived at dusk to deliver our gifts, and as we walked across the courtyard, I could see lights on in the apartments and hear the clatter of dishes and dinner conversation. A few older children chatted around the swing set. And the overwhelming scent in the evening air was laundry … clean laundry … the soap and fabric softener scent that just SMELLS like home.
Additionally, several times thru the years, friends who are photographers volunteered to take family pictures of each Saint Louise House family for their own keepsakes. At one photo shoot, to get the ball rolling, Jack and I jumped in to pose for some photos.”
Q: How was this setup different than the one 17 years ago?
“Seventeen years ago, together with friends and family, we did it all. Solicited household donations of furniture and household goods, art for the walls, a welcome mat, everything. We picked up the donations, hauled the donations, and moved the donations into the apartment. Donors were so willing and so generous and so helpful. Our friends and family joined us. (Once, a friend donated an entire apartment full of furniture!) We ate donuts. We made that house a home. It was a time of community and fun. Friends sewed curtains. Children made welcome home cards and art. This time, largely because of quarantine, our family worked alone. Staff safely prepared and moved all donated items to the apartment and we had the pleasure of just making it pretty. But, we still ate donuts! ;)”
Q: How has volunteering together impacted your family?
“Being a Saint Louise House volunteer family for as long as we have has made Saint Louise House an extension of our own family. We consider Saint Louise House in our calendar, our budget, our future. When an event happens in our community, a change in the economy, a storm or natural disaster, and now COVID-19, we share concern for Saint Louise House families as we do our own. We have also looked forward to celebrating with Saint Louise House at annual giving events like the Mother and Me Tea and Sips and Salsa in the past, and are excited for the Weekend of Giving this fall. And, of course, we are especially proud when a Saint Louise House family celebrates milestones and achievements.”
Q: In one sentence, what stands out to you about Saint Louise House?
“Saint Louise feels like home … like a family.” – Katy Bohuslav
“It’s so important that Saint Louise House exists. Imagine the relief a mother must feel knowing her children are safe at home. That relief gives her a chance to take the next step in her life.” – Thomas Bohuslav
“Saint Louise House has always felt safe to me.” – Jack Bohuslav
“Saint Louise House is community… faith… ESSENTIAL… family. I’ve always imagined how happy and excited the family must be when they open the door and see their apartment. It’s a place that any of us could need some time.” – Will Bohuslav
“I wish I could do more. We are so lucky to have Saint Louise House in our lives.” – Marian Rye, SLH donor and our “Mama” and “Grandmommy”
Q: What message would you give to others about becoming Saint Louise House supporters?
“Saint Louise House is a partnership, a community. Just as any of us need community to raise children, excel in school or a career, to learn and grow, Saint Louise House families have that community at Saint Louise House with each other and skilled staff. Just as Saint Louise House empowerment partners work alongside families to achieve the family’s goals, donors and volunteers work alongside Saint Louise House staff to see that needs are met so that Saint Louise House can continue to have such a profound impact on women and children in our city.”