2024 Humanitarian Hero Honoree – Holly Deitz

2024 Humanitarian Hero Honoree – Holly Deitz

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Executive Director and Founder Michele Gannon describes Mary’s Place by the Sea as a handcrafted tapestry. On the surface, the image reflects what we provide our guests on a daily basis: a beautiful, calm, safe space of healing and community. But when you turn the tapestry over, you see the intricacy of it all: the maze of strings that overlap one another, the mindfulness and loose ends that weave together in order to operate and uphold this space day after day.

The volunteers at Mary’s Place by the Sea are the string that binds our mission together. They are the ones who wipe down counters and sweep floors, fold laundry and make beds, bake banana bread and create heart shaped origami towels to leave on guest beds. They offer a helping hand, a listening ear, a smile and a hug to anyone who needs it.

Mary’s Place by the Sea is celebrating 15 years of service to women with cancer, a milestone that would not be possible without our volunteers. At our 15 Year Anniversary Bash, we will put the spotlight on one volunteer in particular, who has given of her time, talent and treasure over the last seven years. We invite you to take a moment and read the following reflection from our 2024 Humanitarian Hero Honoree, Holly Deitz.

“When my family and I moved to the shore almost 8 years ago, I knew I wanted to get involved and volunteer in my new community. I had a friend who had been a guest at Mary’s Place’s original house in Ocean Grove, so I knew a bit about their mission. I signed up for the Walkathon and soon after began volunteering weekly, working in the kitchen, and serving our guests in any way I could. I describe the feeling one gets when walking through the doors of this magical place, as being embraced in a warm hug.

My family has a history of cancer. When I was twelve, my dad passed away from it and my mother had three bouts of cancer before she passed over three years ago. Once we lost my mom, I knew I wanted to do something to honor her, and that’s when I spoke to my family about making a donation to Mary’s Place.

When I spoke to Michele and the Team about a donation, we discussed using the funds in a way that would be significant for our guests and would honor my mother’s memory. I believe everything came together as it was supposed to.

A portion of our family’s donation went towards producing the second edition of the cookbook. It felt right and like a connection to my mother as one of the ways she showed her love for her family was through cooking. The cookbook’s dedication page has a photo of my mom, my daughter and me. It is so special to be able to honor her and to give a cookbook to each of her grandchildren.

Several months later Michele spoke to me of their desire to expand the Counseling Program. They envisioned being able to have enough counselors available so that every woman who came to Mary’s Place had the opportunity to participate in individual counseling. As Michele finished telling me of this vision, I knew in that moment that was exactly the program I wanted to contribute to, to better serve our guests and to honor my mom. I believe that counseling is one of the most important ways we support our guests.

For me to be able to come to Mary’s Place weekly, to help out, to be present and to be of service to our guests – is really the best part. As women, it’s hard to let someone help you and take care of you. I’ve seen the apprehension some guests have upon arrival, but by lunchtime, I’ve witnessed the bonding, the connection and the friendships that come from being here.

It’s amazing to be able to volunteer here and to witness the power of what Mary’s Place offers to   these women who are going through such difficult times in their lives. To be able to give them this place, this space to just breathe and heal, is truly incredible and I’m grateful every day to be a member of the Mary’s Place community.”