The Center's Words

Congratulations to Sr. Therese DelGenio, SNDdeN:

A 2024 Transformation Awards Honoree— volunteer of the year

by | Jun 14, 2024 | The Center’s Words

The Center for Respite Care relies upon our volunteers to keep day-to-day life (inside the Center) vibrant and meaningful. This includes the time that volunteers spend with our clients creating hope, activities, education, and food provision. Sister Therese has been a long-time supporter and contributor to the heartbeat of the Center.

Sr. Therese DelGenio, SNDdeN
“Our volunteers are a critical part of what we do and who we are. Sister Therese DelGenio has been a leader and inspirational component of the Center’s work. She is a force of nature,” Laurel Nelson, CEO said.

We recently caught up with Sister Therese and learned more about her. She has led a life of service — that has included working with our most vulnerable on challenges that include human trafficking, housing, food supply, substance use disorder, and homelessness. We are honored that she chose to spend some of her time with us.

How did you come to learn about the Center?

I was working at Saint Francis Seraph Ministries (located in the building with the Center) and heard about the Center for Respite Care. I learned that people needed someone to talk to and then I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I wanted to continue working with people who were homeless and was happy to use whatever skills I had with them.  I interviewed and I was accepted as a volunteer.

Please tell us about your background:

I started as a teacher at Summit Country Day School in Cincinnati. I then transferred to Calumet City IL, and I taught there for five years. I moved in with another order for one year lived in East Chicago and taught school in Gary, Indiana. I was involved in a shelter for homeless men that was in East Chicago —it was a Catholic Worker house.

I was there as a volunteer then I was made a board member and then I became the director.  Many of the clients had an addiction problem.  I grew up with one in my home, but I didn’t have any formal training — I just had life experience.  I was accepted into a counseling program to be a certified addictions counselor at Eastern General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL.

When I finished getting certified —the city of East Chicago paid the owner of the building that I was renting (because they were going to expand the highway) — he sold the building from underneath us and we had two weeks to get out and get people placed.

I ultimately felt that God wanted me somewhere else. I had this incredible experience of being on a pastoral staff.  I was able to use my addiction counseling skills and train a whole team of people in addiction — to recognize the science to do interventions and help families. This took off as it was much needed.  We started this program in about 15 different parishes — all over Chicagoland.  We were also accepting seminary students to come and be on our team and get trained. This became part of their ministry program.


What made you interested in working with people experiencing homelessness?

I became horrified that there were no shelters for homeless people who kept coming to our convent and ringing the doorbell. They were asking for sandwiches and gloves a warm coat and money.  I started a program to address these challenges. An area Sister could not find a place for them. She realized that “places” already exist in churches of all denominations. They have church basements and they’re not using those 24/7. We used a different church basement every night.


What brought you back to Cincinnati?

I did that for 17 years and the program is still going. In the 17th year, I was asked by my community to return to Cincinnati. Once in Cincinnati, I realized that I was missing my homeless people.  My spiritual director recommended talking to one of our Sisters about Our Daily Bread. I started by volunteering.

Our Daily Bread became impacted by the pandemic — please explain that:

I ultimately was a social worker for Our Daily Bread. COVID hit and the governor shut us all down —any place that served as a congregating area. We rounded up enough volunteers to serve them one by one and take out containers at the door but nobody was allowed in. Sadly, I did lose my position because of COVID.

And this brought you to us:

When I learned about the Center —God said, “Wake up girl! This is just where I want you.”

Kay and Dave (two of the Center team who work with clients on their health challenges and casework to transition once released) are two of the most amazing people I’ve met. They could replace Sherlock Holmes. They will dig and dig and dig until they uncover these sources somebody needs. This includes connecting people to the family with whom they have lost contact.

Please describe what you think of the Center:

The Center is an amazing place — a place for second chances.

Sister has done lots of work with the Center’s clients regarding addiction. She also works as a spiritual advisor — and is looking to develop a group that helps people when they are leaving. She conducts client activities such as arts and crafts. She believes that groups make people supportive of one another.

Thank you for your service, Sister. We could not do it without you!


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The Center for Respite Care is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization. View our 2022 IRS Form 990 – Public Disclosure.








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Center for Respite Care
1615 Republic Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202

P.O. Box 141301
Cincinnati, Ohio 45250

(513) 621-1868

(513) 621-1872

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