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Press Releases

Eighth-Grader's Love of Music and Art Benefits Holy Name's Villa Marie Claire Residential Hospice

Date: 4/21/2014

Woodcliff Middle School student partners with Knights of Columbus to go above and beyond

In a community service project that has exceeded all expectations, an eighth grade student, with the help of her church's Knights of Columbus, has facilitated the donation of CD players for every patient room at Holy Name Medical Center's residential hospice, Villa Marie Claire in Saddle River, NJ. The CD players, along with a CD music library, were presented to members of the Villa's administration in a ceremony on April 14.

Cathy Yakomin's association with Villa Marie Claire (VMC) began last year when, as a CCD student and confirmation candidate at St. Gabriel the Archangel Church in Saddle River, she chose to volunteer at the Villa as part of her community service project, creating handmade decorations for every holiday.  During that time, she learned from Lyn Borek, VMC Volunteer Coordinator and Ms. Yakomin's project mentor, that music is highly beneficial to hospice patients.  Excited about the prospect of bringing live music to the Villa, Ms. Yakomin and an eighth-grade friend performed a concert duet (flute and clarinet) of Christmas and Hanukkah songs in December.  When Ms. Borek then mentioned that she would like to provide CD players in each of the 20 patient rooms, Ms. Yakomin decided she would make that happen.

After getting price estimates and pulling together a proposal, Ms. Yakomin inquired to St. Gabriel's Rev. Msgr. Frank Del Prete, who assisted in bringing her request for funding to Bruce Walenczyk, a Councilman in Saddle River and Grand Knight of St. Gabriel's Knights of Columbus 11889.  "We brought Cathy's proposal to the Knights and it was unanimous," said Mr. Walenczyk. "The Villa is a beautiful facility, so welcome in the community. We were delighted to have the opportunity to support Cathy's project."

With $610 from the Knights, Ms. Yakomin ordered 20 mini boom boxes, which she had first researched online. The units are radios, as well as CD players, and are compatible with devices such as iPhones and MP3 players. "We were looking to get new CD players but this was above and beyond what we expected," noted Ms. Borek.

During the ceremony, Charles Vialotti, MD, Medical Director at the Villa, expressed his appreciation for the donation. "One of the most relaxing things we can offer our patients is music therapy," he said. "Nothing is more soothing. It's such an important adjunct to the care we give, and Cathy's efforts have been an inspiration."

Currently a student at Woodcliff Middle School, Ms. Yakomin said the CD project took about a month to accomplish.  She chose to concentrate on music and holiday decorations because those things "not only make patients happy, they make their families happy, too."  Heading off to Pascack Hills High School in the fall, she said her commitment to the Villa will continue. She is contemplating the possibility of involving others in her community service as she encourages new friends to join her in concerts at VMC.

There is a wide range of volunteer opportunities with and without patient interaction at Villa Marie Claire and with Holy Name's community hospice program. Interested persons should call the Hospice office at 201-833-3188 and ask for the Volunteer Coordinator.



Student Cathy Yakomin with members of the Knights of Columbus and Villa Marie Claire staff. Back row left to right: Mike Vaupotic, Charles Vialotti, MD, Ron Porto, Joe Lamela, Bruce Walenczyk, Bill Deegan, John Halliwell, Tom Parkes, Jim Fitzpatrick, Jay Bouton, Jerry Clark, and Msgr. Frank DelPrete. Front seated: Lyn Borek, Cathy Yakomin and Sister Regina O'Connell.