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BVMs and Associates: The Blessings of Service

BVMs And Associates: The Blessings Of Service

Marguerite Murphy, BVM assists veteran Robert Hughart to his table during Wellness Works’ St. Patrick’s Day barbeque.

In southern California, BVMs and associates have taken to doing “service for service.” As veterans and current military have served the U.S., BVMs and associates have been making commitments to provide services in return.

One way they give back is through Wellness Works in Glendale. The organization has multiple services available to veterans and their families, ranging from therapy to acupuncture, support groups, and more.

The vets come here because it’s special. When I come now, this is home.” —Dean, Air Force veteran

Wellness Works is a community where veterans come to help restore hope and a sense of wholeness of body and soul for themselves and their families. As Dean, an Air Force veteran describes, “The vets come here because it’s special. When I come now, this is home.”

BVMs have been connected to Wellness Works since 1984. Marian (William Marie) Hurley, BVM (now deceased) is recognized as honorary co-foundress of this “home” for veterans. She devoted hours over the years providing hand massages and a listening heart to the vets.

Showing ‘Goodwill and Appreciation’
One way BVMs and associates are able to engage in community service at the center is to serve a meal at one of the monthly barbeques held in the Wellness Works’ backyard.

On St. Patrick’s Day, BVMs and associates gathered mid-morning to begin setting up tables and decorations for a day that turned out to be beyond wonderful. True to the theme of the holiday, green abounded in decorations as well as attire.

BVM Associate Clara Schwartz, whose teen grandsons volunteered with her, enjoys “seeing many generations coming together to give, share, and meet many individuals, each with his or her own story.”

At the barbeque, a feeling of social support instantly became obvious as each veteran engaged in the telling of his or her story, or those of their family members, who served in the military—stories like bringing home POWs, or seeing someone burn, or being an Air Force bomber in Vietnam.

Many veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which is addressed in the Wellness Works programs, and the resulting “friendships”—more than “comradery” as Dean pointed out—were evident throughout the conversations and reunions at this gathering.

Today showed goodwill and appreciation, but we need to be grateful for Wellness Works being here 365 days a year.” —Marguerite Murphy, BVM

As Marguerite (John) Murphy, BVM expresses, “Today showed goodwill and appreciation, but we need to be grateful for Wellness Works being here 365 days a year.”

Following the meal, Shirley and Gil Federico, who are discerning BVM association, share, “It was a beautiful day. The company here was friendly and knowledgeable, and we were happy to see new faces this year,” some of whom came from distances of more than an hour away.

To serve and be served. The military has served, and we as BVMs, associates, and friends are called to serve, to provide the justice of inclusivity. And the rewards of blessing others? Being blessed by those we serve.

Not On Our Watch
Photo by Mark Dust

Sharing Awareness
Not on Our Watch is another Wellness Works event that BVMs and associates have assisted this year by helping set up chairs, signs, and booths in a park in Glendale. This annual three-day event in the fall is designed to attract the public’s attention to the devastating statistic that 22 suicides occur per day among former and current military members. BVMs and associates, feel it is their calling to help with education about this unfortunate reality.


Associates Cheryl Hannah, Carol Walsh, Lia Avila, and BVM Vicki Smurlo fill emergency bags for active service members through Operation Gratitude.

Serving Active Service Members
First introduced by Associate Clara Schwartz, southern California BVMs and associates have made a commitment to help active military through Operation Gratitude.
BVMs, associates, and friends join with hundreds to pack boxes, write letters, stuff Teddy bears (for children of those serving), fill emergency bags, and more. Associate Lia Avila also gives her time during many weekday mornings.

About the author: After a 17-year ministry of hospice social work, Vicki Smurlo, BVM now lives in retirement at Holy Redeemer Convent in Montrose, Calif. She continues to work with BVM associates and those discerning becoming associates.

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