“What an honor you so deserve Congratulations, Maria!!! How great is that, “they” recognize in you what I learned the first time we met? You’re beautiful inside and out! Great work!
Love you, Theresa.”
That message sums it up for our October Volunteer of the Month, Maria Matteo. “They” is The ALS Association Greater Philadelphia Chapter. “Theresa” is Theresa Esposito who has been living with ALS since 2006. And Maria She is Maria Matteo, a Visiting Volunteer who exemplifies all that is right in the world today. This photo reminds us why volunteers are the best people in the world. 2020 has posed so many challenges, and to our ALS families, the isolation necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with its health implications, has been a double whammy. Maria Matteo, chooses to spend her time helping others. There is simply no way to quantify how she makes a difference in Theresa’s life. Maria, on the left in this photo, says of Theresa (to her right), “There couldn’t be anything more rewarding than to help individuals like Theresa through the Chapter’s Visiting Volunteer Program.”
From offering companionship, to engaging in conversation, to organizing closets, to setting up holiday decorations, the essence of the Visiting Volunteer program is personified in Maria’s and Theresa’s relationship. While the coronavirus placed hard felt restrictions on the ALS community, as soon as Maria found a safe way to visit Theresa, she was there two weekends in a row, to help Theresa move into a new home. What began as an effort of volunteering has now developed into a great friendship!
Maria’s ALS journey began in July of 2005, when her husband Nick began to feel the early manifestations of ALS. She gave up her career to be Nick’s primary caregiver and credits the Chapter with providing essential services to help them cope with the disease. This help came in the way of a dedicated social worker who helped them navigate insurance and went to bat to obtain a motorized wheelchair, Hoyer lift, in-home care, and a stair glide. She also enjoyed the Chapter’s Caregivers Days where she engaged with other ALS caregivers while learning caregiving techniques and relaxing in an afternoon of baking and self-care. (This year’s Caregivers Day on November 7 will be virtual and it will be amazing if you are caring for a person with ALS, please make sure to sign up today by contacting Carla Patton at Carla@alsphiladelphia.org or 215-664-4145 or by clicking here.)