Volunteer Spotlight: Dee Dee Farley

Dee Dee Farley’s story began long before JW House was ever built. She and her husband, Tim, went every Sunday to St. Martin of Tours parish for Mass. It was there that Tim met JW for the first time in the choir. “When Tim talks about the first time he met JW, he jokes that he thought JW was an abandoned child. Every Sunday morning, he’d just be dropped off at choir practice to play the bongos and that was that,” Dee Dee remembers. After a while, Dee Dee and Tim came to know the entire Knapen family, and they quickly became close friends. Throughout JW’s illness, the Farley family was never too far to offer a helping hand or a moment of comfort whenever needed. Dee Dee says, “When I go to JW House, I go there because of the Knapen family and our strong connection.”


As the idea of JW House grew, the Farleys were never too far from the action, playing an important role in its development. Whereas many people came on to the project once it was a more concrete concept, Dee Dee was involved with much of the conceptual logistics of the House. “I saw the plans for how the staff would be run once the House opened, and I was trained by the first House Director, Rachel Schreiber, to be a part of the original group of volunteers at the House,” Dee Dee recalls. She smiles as she remembers how close Tim was to JW House as well. She points out, “Tim was actually the person who registered the first ever guest in the House, and I think that really solidifies our deep connection to the organization and all it does for its guests.” Once JW House was up and running, it didn’t take long for Dee Dee to sign up for a volunteer shift. Now, every Wednesday morning, you can find her talking to guests, baking cookies, and doing various other jobs around the House. “JW House is such a nice idea that it inspires people to bend over backwards to try and help others. Here, there is a built-up sense of compassion, where everyone actively listens to each other,” Dee Dee feels. However, volunteering every week at the House, every volunteer is faced with the reality of those suffering with a loved one in the hospital. Dee Dee has experienced this countless times over her years volunteering with JW House. Even so, she has felt an atmosphere of hope dwarf these struggles with the overwhelming love and support emanating from the House. She explains, “JW House is a hopeful non-profit; it has such an expansive sense of hope. There is just such a tremendous quality of volunteers and variety of guests that continues to build up this hope. For the volunteers who are there to help, the reward lies in the successes.”


On top of her deep, personal connections with the countless guests who have walked through JW House’s doors, Dee Dee has developed strong relationships with the volunteers who have worked alongside her throughout the years. One volunteer in particular, her partner on Wednesday mornings, has become family. “I first met Ann when she came to take care of Tim for a night when he was sick. That night, we became very close, and since we began volunteering together, our relationship has only grown,” Dee Dee describes. Since the time they met, Dee Dee and Ann enjoy time together outside of JW House, and Dee Dee feels it is all down to the House’s ability to foster compassionate friendship in the face of medical crisis. Along with this, Dee Dee understands, “All of the volunteers are like-minded because of the kind of people JW House attracts to volunteer. Every volunteer is there in their free time to help other people out because they care so much. This like-mindedness inevitably leads to the personal relationships that I have been blessed with. I always leave JW House thankful for my life.”


For Dee Dee, JW House will always be an integral piece of her life, and she plans to continue volunteering for as long as she can. The friendships she has made and the experiences she has had will never leave her. She recognizes the interconnection between the House and its guests, and the importance of both the House to the guests and the guests to the House. “In short, people can’t do without JW House because it’s job is just too important. Likewise, the guests are also so important because of the impact they leave on all of us. There isn’t much I wouldn’t do for the guests at JW House,” Dee Dee concludes.


The guests are also so important because of the impact they leave on us.