Following in the Family’s Footsteps
When Polly Coleman first started volunteering at Saint Joseph Hospital 31 years ago, she assisted in the surgery waiting room. Shortly after, the Director of Volunteer Services asked if she would assist in the gift shop as well. Polly did not know it at the time, but this small ask would turn into a joy of volunteering that she still has today at the age of 95; a joy that would be passed on from generation to generation.
“At that time, I was not interested in volunteering elsewhere, as I was already assisting in the waiting room. But now it’s been many years and I have been with the gift shop ever since,” Polly chuckled.
When Polly was a child, her family always chose Saint Joseph as the place to receive care, as Polly’s father was acquaintances with a provider there at the time. For the rest of her life, she has continued receiving care at Saint Joseph and has shown a strong commitment to helping create a joyous atmosphere for those visiting the gift shop.
Polly’s longevity and Caring Spirit has even inspired others in her family to volunteer within the gift shop.
Like Mother, Like Daughter
Polly’s daughter, Dianne Montanari, has been a volunteer at Saint Joseph for three years.
Spending the greater part of her life assisting sixth grade students as an aid in the classroom setting, Dianne has always had a desire to help others. In 2018, Dianne retired from her career and was looking forward to retirement when she received a call from her mother, Polly.
“My mother called me almost as soon as I retired and said, ‘You’ve got to come in and start volunteering,’ and now here I am,” Montanari said. “We’ve had a lot of fun together since and get to spend lots of time together. It’s been great!”
A Positive Influence
Having a grandmother that has spent many years volunteering has always been unique for Sarah Owen.
At the age of just 12, Sarah decided to join her grandmother as a junior volunteer, where she spent four years in the gift shop.
“I originally chose to volunteer at such a young age, mostly because I wanted to hang out with my grandmother,” Sarah joked, “but I had so much fun and learned so much with her.”
The experience of volunteering created such fond memories for her that she decided to apply for a volunteer internship at Saint Joseph in 2009. Because of her outstanding performance, this would soon lead to a full-time job offer in Patient Experience.
Now, 12 years later, Sarah has her dream job as the Director of Service Excellence at Saint Joseph, all while her mother and grandmother continue to volunteer in the gift shop. Each week on Tuesdays, you can find the three generations working together at Saint Joseph and enjoying lunch together in the café.
“Having experience in the gift shop and now in my current position has made me appreciate all of the roles throughout the hospital and the impact that they each have on creating a positive environment for our patients,” Sarah said.
Their family’s dedication to the communities that SCL Health serves extend to superior levels, proving that healthcare is much more than a job -- it is the work of God’s healing love.
Mike Paquette joined the SCL Health organization as the Communications Program Manager for Montana just a month ago, yet his roots in our ministry extend back to his early childhood.
He spent countless hours beside his parents, where his father, Jim, was a leader within the organization and his mother was an active volunteer. Now, Mike’s sister, Katie, is currently an Occupational Therapist at Good Samaritan Medical Center in Lafayette, Colorado. In many ways, it seems second nature to Mike to work for SCL Health, as much of his development is thanks to those throughout our organization.
“I grew up in the halls of St. Vincent Healthcare, with the sisters at St. Vincent and the Billings Catholics Schools. Both played an important role in my life as role models and extended family,” Mike said.
With his father leading at St. Vincent, Mike began developing a strong relationship with the sisters in his early childhood. At that time, there were several sisters who lived in Marillac Hall, who most notably were big fans of the Kansas City Chiefs football team. Mike noted that he spent many afternoons with them watching football and eating delicious homemade food.
“Sister Jane Ellen made a great chili, which was always my favorite,” Mike mentioned. “The sisters always watched over us and took great care of me and my family. They truly made it a joy to be in the walls of the hospital.”
Mike’s father, Jim, made outstanding contributions to the growth of SCL Health, serving the ministry for over 30 years before retiring in 2012. His career began in finance, where he soon excelled his leadership skills and took the role of Chief Executive Officer of the Montana Region and even led our former hospitals in Kansas for several years. Mike’s mother, Patte, was also actively involved as a volunteer nurse, childbirth educator and chaplain at SCL Health facilities including St. Vincent and the Elizabeth Seton Clinic in Montana; an outreach clinic in Kansas City, Kansas; St. Francis in Topeka, Kansas; and Mount Saint Vincent Home in Colorado.
A Desire to Serve
Although Mike is just beginning his own career in healthcare, his values have always been centered around helping those in need.
Mike’s parents were Peace Corps volunteers when they first married, so Mike and his wife, Brittanie, chose the same path. This created an opportunity to travel around the world serving those in need for nearly two years. Following their first mission together as a bride and groom in Bolivia, the Paquettes found an opportunity to volunteer with sisters on a mission in Peru.
A Time to Give Back
Throughout Mike’s travels around the world, he has always considered Billings to be home, thanks to the quality of life that he had enjoyed in the Montana region and his early influences.
Mike’s time with the sisters and his parents helped him garner a strong understanding of the core values that shape the way that we care for the communities that we serve and now he sees an opportunity to continue their legacy as a storyteller.
“My parents and the sisters set a great example for me of what it means to serve and now I feel it is my time to set the same example for my children,” Mike said. “They made SCL Health feel like home and although some faces have changed, I am so grateful to be here again and continue the Mission of SCL Health.”