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85-year-old: ‘I tried quitting, and it didn’t work’

Volunteer Yvonne Tihen gets joy from helping clients at Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Service

Yvonne Tihen, right, volunteers as a case management worker and coordinates the Adopt-A-Family program at Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Center. Tihen organized paperwork on Oct. 21 with the help of another volunteer, her daughter, Sharon Speak, for the associated families of the Christmas program at Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Center.
Photo Credits: Lisa Johnston
Yvonne Tihen combines retirement with all the things she enjoyed about working.

“I tried quitting, and it didn’t work,” Tihen said.

She’s at the same place where she worked — only now as a volunteer. She also volunteered before she became employed at Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Service in St. Charles, an agency that also serves people in Lincoln and Warren Counties.

Tihen, 85, volunteers as a case management worker and also coordinates the agency’s Adopt-A-Family program for families, especially children, elderly and disabled people who are battling poverty. Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Service receives funding from the Annual Catholic Appeal.

A parishioner of St. Robert Bellarmine in St. Charles, Tihen has been at Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Center for 22 years. Her latest stint as a volunteer, after retiring, began about five years ago. “I missed it so bad, I went right back,” she said.

“The people who work there are wonderful,” Tihen said of the staff and volunteers. “They care about our clients. They do everything they can to make life easier for them.”

She missed the people who need help and the feeling she gets from helping them. She volunteers one day a week as a caseworker. She is involved as chair of the Adopt-A-Family program from September to January, putting in from 20-40 hours a week. The program usually assists about 500 families with a distribution at St. Charles Community College. The COVID-19 outbreak this year forced a relocation to Sts. Joachim and Ann School, with assistance expected for about 300 families at the smaller venue. The care service seeks sponsors who supply the needs of the families. Each family receives three to eight gifts, gift cards for a Christmas dinner, items the care service gets in bulk and other items such as bikes. It takes a lot of coordination, many phone calls with donors and interviews with recipient families.

Tihen laughed and said spring and summer is a time to regroup, though she does help out with other efforts and helps with some work on computer that she does at home. “Whatever they want me to do, I’m more than willing,” she said.

Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Service goes “over and above” to help its clients, Tihen said, praising the social workers and volunteers. “It’s not just a matter of paying a bill and saying bye. They follow through with them, see that they’re established, make sure the children have what they need, finding them housing.”

The food pantry is staffed mostly by fellow seniors. “They do a beautiful job,” Tihen said. “I can’t say enough good things about the care service. They go overboard to help the needy people. We’re lucky enough that people come and volunteer. They stay because they enjoy being there.”

Her faith is important to her volunteer efforts. “We’re supposed to love our neighbor as thyself,” she said. “I think going to church doesn’t do any good unless you help your fellow man.”

Helping others brings her joy. “There’s so much good you can do out there, so why not spend some time doing it.”

A while back, Tihen also helped with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul at her parish. She is among the people who volunteer with an outreach program at the parish to seniors that’s temporarily on hiatus because of COVID-19. She and her husband have eight children, 27 grandchildren and 32 great-grandchildren.

Tihen grew up in Overland and moved to St. Charles in 1968. The burgeoning community “was still a little town. It sure isn’t any more,” she said.

>> More information

Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Service in St. Charles addresses short-term and long-term homelessness and hunger issues. It offers comprehensive case management and wrap-around services that provide those in need with assistance as well as a connection with community partners.

The care service has a motto of “planting the seed of hope, breaking the chain of despair.”

In addition to volunteer assistance, the Care Service seeks monetary gifts from individuals, businesses, churches, civic groups and other organizations. For information, call (636) 441-1302 ext 263 or visit www.jacares.org.

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