Getting To Know Our Parish Volunteers
Clement Valot, aka Clem, is a founding member of St. Mary of the Hills. Clem, a Project Management Analyst, is happily married to Debra for 41 years and is blessed with two adult children, Brooke and Clement Blake, and a granddaughter, Lilly, whom he adores. For over 20 years, Clem has volunteered his time as a Marriage Prep Sponsor Couple as well as a Eucharistic Minister. Within the past three years, he has gotten very involved with the Evangelization Committee and has served as a ChristLife Team Leader. Clem is also the unofficial “clean-up” guy for many of the functions held here at St. Mary of the Hills. When asked why he volunteers, Clem responded “I volunteer because of the true happiness that comes from giving that materialism, money or other pleasures do not provide. After joining the EV and ChristLife Team, I realized I was (to borrow a verse from Karl Keating) “…. the uninstructed Catholic: stumbling along in the dark not even aware that it is dark, half-fed and not even hungry for more…” and “in no state to show others the light or the nourishment.” It felt like God was talking to me through Karl Keating.” Clem went on to say that through volunteering as a Marriage Prep Sponsor Couple, his own marriage has been blessed. By sharing with the engaged couples the basic needs for a healthy marriage as well as their own struggles as a couple, he has been reminded how important it is to keep God in his own marriage. For fun, Clem enjoys walks with his wife, spending long weekends in Mackinaw City with family, learning about his faith as he rediscovers the beauty of Catholicism (with Matthew Kelly), and his work (he loves what he does!). His one wish for the improvement of St. Mary of the Hills is for all Parish members to find true happiness through sharing their gifts and talents that God has given to all of us; for our Parish to reach out to less fortunate parishes; for the mission to “Go Make Disciples”. Thank you, Clem, for touching so many lives through your volunteer work here at St. Mary of the Hills!
Many of you recognize Peggy Casing from her role as Director of Religious Formation here at our parish. What you probably do not realize though is that Peggy is also a dedicated volunteer at St. Mary of the Hills. Peggy, along with her husband of 32 years, Don, has been a parishioner since our first Mass back in 1989. In fact, she is very proud to admit that she was chosen to turn over the dirt on our property using the ceremonial shovel at our ground breaking ceremony! Peggy and Don have two beautiful daughters and three grand-cats. When not working, Peggy spends a lot of her time volunteering at our church. Through the years, she has served as a catechist, a resource leader, the chairperson for our Adult Fellowship group, and as a member of the prayer shawl ministry, just to name a few. Why does she volunteer? In her own words, “I love my parish family and I want to help them any way I can. I love spending time with them too!” Her biggest wish for St. Mary of the Hills is to have greater participation at all of our wonderful events. In what little free time she has, Peggy enjoys quilting, crafting (crocheting, knitting, jewelry making, etc.) and walking. Thank you, Peggy, for being an inspiration to others!
Ron Stockel and his wife Genevieve have been parishioners of St. Mary of the Hills for 10 years. Ron, a retired Real Estate Broker, is blessed to have 8 adult children. He has been sharing his time with St. Mary’s for the past 6 years in many different ministries. Ron is a member of the Knights of Columbus and he has helped with the blood drives as well as the parish picnics. He also happily volunteers in the kitchen during our SOS week, waking up early to come and help the breakfast crew. When he is not volunteering, Ron enjoys being active by golfing, bowling, hunting, dancing and fishing.
Christine Klemmer, married to John for 45 years this November, has two adult children and two beautiful grandchildren. Chris is a semi-retired Physical Therapist who has volunteered her time to many different ministries here at St. Mary of the Hills. Since joining our parish soon after it was established, Chris has been part of the chair set up team, she has served as a catechist for Religious Education, she volunteered as a leader for the Children’s Liturgy of the Word on Sunday mornings, and she has counted the Sunday collections. Chris currently serves as a Eucharistic Minister and she coordinates the yearly Couple’s Anniversary Mass and reception. She initially became involved at St. Mary’s in order to be involved in her children’s religious education and to do volunteer service as a family. She continues to be involved as part of the service aspect of her life. In her spare time, Chris enjoys being with her family, playing with her grandchildren, traveling (especially pilgrimages), bible studies, and aqua jogging in her subdivision lake. Her one wish for St. Mary of the Hills is to see more adults take advantage of the bible studies, book clubs and adult education opportunities that are available for personal spiritual growth. Thank you, Chris, for touching so many hearts through your volunteering!
Michaeleen Dolinksi is definitely someone who uses her talents! She has been an active member of St. Mary of the Hills for 25 years. She is a widow of eight years who is blessed with five adult children and nine grandchildren. Through the years, Michaeleen has been involved with St. Mary’s guilds, the exercise group, card club, religious education, senior fellowship, Stephen Ministry, the welcome center, funeral lunches, and Eucharistic Ministers. She currently volunteers her time one Sunday a month in the parish office as well as serving as a representative for the seniors on parish council and as a member of the Evangelization committee. Her longest standing commitment (20 years!) has been as a volunteer for our SOS ministry. Michaeleen’s motivation for volunteering is quite simple . . . she love its! She says, “to be working with the heart of Christ is my greatest pleasure, and this is where I see it most openly.” When Michaeleen is not sharing her time and talents with St. Mary of the Hills, she enjoys going to concerts, meeting new people, and spending time with her grandchildren. Her one wish for St. Mary’s is to have more space (a few more classrooms would be nice). That is definitely a good problem to have!
Gene Zynda, along with his wife Christie, has been a member of St. Mary of the Hills since the first Mass 26 years ago! Gene has two grown children, a son and a daughter, and two young grandchildren. Gene is retired but keeps very busy volunteering his time at St. Mary of the Hills. Through the years, Gene has been involved with various fundraisers, parish council, John R Rd clean-up, and GIFT. He currently shares his time with our Gleaner’s Food Bank ministry, the Giving Tree ministry, and Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers. Gene donates his time because he has always felt that it is important to give back to others. For fun, Gene enjoys spending time with family, taking vacations, biking, hiking, and sailing. When asked what his one wish for St. Mary of the Hills is, Gene responded “There is not too much I have to say about improving St. Mary’s. We have a great parish and it seems like new younger families are starting to volunteer.” We definitely do have a great parish, Gene! Thanks to Superheroes like you!
Mary Davis is unique in that she is a volunteer who is not actually a parishioner of St. Mary of the Hills. Mary joined our SMYG program several years ago and because of that she has become actively involved in our parish life. On Sunday mornings, you will see her smiling face in St. Mary’s childcare room happily watching over our youngest members. On Wednesday MSP evenings, Mary helps lead the middle school “family” groups. And once a month, Mary attends our parish council meetings as the youth representative for our parish. In her free time, Mary enjoys spending time with her friends and family. Her goal is to get high attendance at SMYG this year and to help get other youth involved in our parish. Thank you, Mary, for being a blessing to St. Mary of the Hills!
Donna Kopinski, along with her husband Kevin Nielsen, is a founding member of St. Mary of the Hills. I was fortunate to meet Donna early on in one of the guilds that Fr. Strain had started when the church began, and we have been great friends ever since! Donna has served in many ministries through the years. She volunteered as a collection counter, an SOS Captain, and she assisted with the planning for Advent by Candlelight. Despite her demanding job as the CFO of a local hospital, Donna still currently serves on St. Mary’s Finance Commission as well as Coordinates our annual SOS week . When asked why she volunteers, Donna stated that she would like to give back for all that she has received and also because she has many talents she feels she can share with our parish. When asked to share those talents, she simply said “yes!” She would love to see more parishioners get involved especially because St. Mary’s is filled with many good people that could do great things for our community. In what little free time she has, Donna enjoys scrapbooking, stamping, making greeting cards, gardening, reading, and doing genealogy research. Donna definitely exemplifies the true meaning of Success!
Although Meghan Schuler was only a year and a half when St. Mary’s was “born,” she is a founding member who became involved at a very young age. Over the past 17 years, Meghan has served in many ministries including the following: an altar server, an adult volunteer for the summer SAW program, a catechist for the middle school program, an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, the parish council representative for the Education Commission, the parish council secretary, a parish council at large member, and a Christ Life Young Adult Group Leader. Often I hear people say that they don’t have time to volunteer; but here is a young woman who works full time in a demanding job as an attorney and yet is able to find time to share her “talents” with St. Mary of the Hills! With her ever present smile and her gentle spirit, she is such a joy to work with. When Meghan has free time (which isn’t often), she enjoys reading and spending time with her family and friends. When asked what her one wish is for St. Mary of the Hills, Meghan said that she would love to see more young adults participate in groups and activities. Thank you, Meghan, for sharing the talents that God blessed you with at St. Mary of the Hills!
Hazel Beres joined St. Mary of the Hills in 1994. She has been married to her husband, Ken, for 46 years and has two adult children. Hazel is a retired nurse with many talents that she joyfully shares with St. Mary of the Hills! She is a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society as well as the Funeral Ministry. Hazel also has a beautiful voice that she shares with St. Mary’s as a member of the adult and contemporary choirs. She definitely exudes joy as she sings each week at Mass! Hazel volunteers for the sense of fulfillment she gets from helping people in need and also for the friends that she has made along the way. When she is not busy sharing her gifts with St. Mary of the Hills, Hazel enjoys biking, reading, swimming, and walking Benji, the family dog.
Janet Gerhard and her husband, Glen, have been members of St. Mary of the Hills for 16 years. They have two beautiful children, Alex (14) and Lauren (12). Although Janet is very busy raising her two children, she still finds time to volunteer at our parish. You may recognize her as one of the friendly faces you first see when arriving for Mass on Sunday. Janet is often at the door greeting our parishioners and guests with a big smile and a warm hello. Along with greeting, Janet is a Stephen Minister and a member of the planning team for our yearly Advent by Candlelight program. She has also served on our Parish Council as well as the Education Commission. When asked why she volunteers, Janet said that being around other volunteers inspires her and she enjoys being part of a vibrant church community. By volunteering, she has learned what it takes to run a parish and she has been fortunate to establish some long lasting relationships. When Janet is not volunteering, she works as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She enjoys scrapbooking, cooking healthy recipes, golfing, biking, and cross-country skiing. Thank you, Janet, for “bringing sunshine” to St. Mary of the Hills!
Joan Cashman has been a very active member of St. Mary of the Hills for the past 18 years. She has two grown sons and one very special grandson who is named after her late husband, Jack. Through the years, Joan has served in many ministries here at St. Mary including the following: Christian Service, Moses, Peace and Justice, Pontiac Area Vicariate Representative, Posters, Collection Counters, CCRT, and Funeral Luncheons. Joan is also responsible for bringing the Shoebox Recycling to St. Mary of the Hills which helped us purchase our much needed Bunn coffee maker. She is the person who coordinates the selling of the hams and kielbasas at Easter and Christmas and she is the one who sells the Fair Trade products after Masses. Joan amazes me with her dedication and commitment to every ministry she has been involved with. Although she is a very busy woman, she continues to share her talents and gifts with our parish. That is one of the many reasons why Joan will be missed when she moves this month. After many years in her current home in Shelby Township, Joan has decided to sell so that she can be closer to her son and his family in Royal Oak. While we are very excited for Joan and her new adventure, we say goodbye with heavy hearts. She will be truly missed. Our loss, though, will be another parish’s gain. With her smile and her energy, she will definitely be a blessing! Thank you, Joan, for “having the heart” to volunteer here at St. Mary of the Hills! May God bless you with much happiness in this next chapter of your life!
If you might be interested in volunteering at St. Mary’s or if you just have some questions, please contact Laura at 248-243-0254 or email for information on volunteer opportunities or to volunteer.