I remember when I was in the 9th grade; a friend of mine showed me the home of Virginia Schrantz, better known to some as “Miss Virginia”. At the time, her home was located on the corner of Hugh and Francis Streets, which was close to where I lived. I began a routine of stopping by there while walking home from high school. I enjoyed coming into her home and browsing the many items that filled her home. My typical visit at Miss Virginia’s lasted 30-45 minutes. I remember her home being filled with canned goods and other food items, clothes, books, furniture, appliances, games, typewriters, and tape recorders. It seemed like she housed anything she thought might be useful to someone. I felt like her home belonged to the community and that everyone was welcome there.
I knew at the time that Miss Virginia was a “special” person, and I viewed her as a dean of boys and girls. I knew there was much I could learn from her. Upon my arrival to her home, she would “look me over” to determine if I was in need. If there was need, she would supply the needed items. There was a large demand for school supplies, which she met. She had resources she would contact to fill outstanding needs. She would chat with visitors to determine if they had more than physical needs. If so, she might refer them to a counselor or she might have a counselor stop by her home to visit with them. I loved reading, and Miss Virginia knew it. I can remember her recommending and giving books to me. There was never a cost for what she provided. Never would one feel belittled or embarrassed while in Miss Virginia’s home.
I wondered what motivated Miss Virginia. I determined that she was of the Catholic religion; I saw Priests in her home; I saw Catholic relics in her home; in conversations she would often refer to Catholic churches and schools. However, religion played no part of who she welcomed into her home. She welcomed all who came. She dedicated her life to helping others.
Miss Virginia’s work was recognized by Mother Theresa in 1982. It’s no wonder that the goodwill of Miss Virginia is still active today. Miss Virginia’s Mission House, is now located at 1312 S. Hanna Street, in a larger home than what she had when I visited her. It is a not-for-profit food pantry and it continues to welcome the needy.
There is a group of people I know who donate drinks and donuts to the youth. The youth come daily after school to receive quick nourishment. I recently learned that this idea originated from the love Miss Virginia had shown to some of the members of the group. Naturally I choose to be a member in that group. I was just one of many youth who Miss Virginia impacted. I owe so much to individuals like her. Giving to others undoubtedly brings about a greater community.
I wish that I could tell Miss Virginia and others how they have encouraged me to serve. I find much enjoyment in helping others. My hope is that I am able to encourage others to serve and to donate, as Miss Virginia encouraged me.
Happy Holidays to all!
Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee
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