Kathleen with her granddaughter Evelyn; the Jones family
Bob & Kathleen are members of the Harmony, Hope & Healing Circle of Friends. When we asked them to share a bit more about themselves and what prompted them to invest in our work, Kathleen provided these comments.
When Bob and I bought our condo in River North in 2006, a friend told us, “If you attend Mass in the city you must go to Old St. Pat’s on the week the Harmony, Hope & Healing choir is singing.”
One Sunday we followed her advice and--Wow! I was moved to tears several times that morning. I remember a choir member beginning her solo, clearly nervous. But she got through the shy, quiet notes and near the end was singing her story with such strength, conviction and hope that I was literally overwhelmed.
Having the privilege of watching Marge Nykaza [founder of Harmony, Hope & Healing] use the gifts of her energy, music, positivity and uplifting magic is always a joy for Bob and me. I have Harmony, Hope & Healing on my monthly calendar as far out as the schedule allows, and we will forever make a special effort to attend Old St. Pat’s on those Sundays.
At one particular Harmony, Hope & Healing Mass, a choir member sang Order My Steps. I will never forget the direct impact those words had on me that morning. It was as if her story was my story and the plea to be guided was meant for us all. My tears flow from feeling love. Someone once said that when your heart swells; it is God. Harmony, Hope & Healing makes my heart swell. They are His instrument.
Bob and I were best friends at NIU and married in 1983. We have 3 daughters and 3 granddaughters, all in the Chicago area. We are most fortunate that one daughter, her husband and our 3 granddaughters live 2 blocks from us!
My heart has always been drawn to the underserved, or those who have no one to hold them up. My life and the lives of my children have been blessed; with unconditionally loving parents, spouses and siblings. Because of this, I knew my passion needed to follow “What breaks my heart?”
As our children grew up, I became a Court Appointed Special Advocate in Will County Family Court, advocating for children removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. Later I took a job as CASA’s director of development, which led to a position as a fundraiser with United Way of Will County. But I really missed the direct advocacy for one person or one family. I decided to go for my dream volunteer position! I wanted to cuddle the sickest babies in the NICU at Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago.
It takes 40-plus hours of volunteering to get invited to cuddle babies. I so enjoyed my time with these angels and loved sharing the healing power of touch. As I held them, I prayed for each but for some reason repeated a quiet prayer: “Please God, don’t have me be doing this for a reason.” I must have had a fear or premonition.
In August 2013 my daughter Erica prematurely gave birth to her second daughter, Evelyn, who was born with severe birth defects due to Congenital Cytomegalovirus, CMV. Evelyn has severe brain damage, microcephaly, bilateral deafness and quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Now 4, Evelyn truly is our family treasure.
She has taught us more about “paying attention” than any other teacher we know. She is pure love. She is perfect. When I feared our broken hearts might crush us and our relationships, she proved it. She is pure love. Nothing is stronger than love. And Marge and Harmony, Hope & Healing can attest to that!