"Sometimes, change is good,” noted Catherine Kasper Home coworker Desiree Godsey in a recent conversation with her friend and fellow coworker Gaylene. The pair also talked about how their faith in God and faith in trusting the journey got them through four months of uncertainty as CKH transitioned from a healthcare facility into a residence for the Poor Handmaid Sisters. “Wherever God puts me, that’s what I’m going to do,” Gaylene said.
From October 2022 when it was announced that CKH would be closing until February 2023 when they found out they would remain PHJC coworkers, it was “like being on a rollercoaster, full of emotional stress,” according to both ladies. They worked through the transition, with the families of the residents, with fellow coworkers, and with the Sisters.
Gaylene began her ministry with the Poor Handmaids 35 years ago, working at the poultry farm. When that closed, she became a cook at the Motherhouse and fondly recalled her days cooking and baking with the late Sister Agnes Muehlenfeld, PHJC. “We called her the Cookie Monster,” Gaylene laughed. “She always had bags of cookies she made and would share them with everyone.” In 2002, Gaylene moved to Environmental Services at the Motherhouse, and in 2006, she transferred to ES at CKH, where she still ministers.
Desiree became a PHJC coworker five years ago, as an admissions assistant at CKH, and then the business manager. In a December 2020 story about surviving the early days of COVID, Desiree told Ripples something prescient: “We don’t realize how much those relationships, and numerous daily interactions matter until they’re taken away.” How true that became as she and Gaylene had to bid farewell to former coworkers and residents. It was then that they remembered their mantra: “Have faith in God and faith in the journey.”
When they had to pack up long-time residents to be moved to their new homes, they leaned on each other for hope and for forging a path forward. “Hopefully, when (the residents) left, they knew they were loved and that they were going to be missed,” Desiree said. “Having faith in the journey was like someone taking your hand, and an overwhelming peace coming over you,” she explained.
“It’s going to be a change to have all Sisters back at CKH,” said Gaylene, CKH Coworker of the Year for 2016. “It’ll be just like it was in the beginning. They’re like family to me. My heart is here”. Desiree is currently working on the financial closing of CKH and is balancing that with the new role she’ll assume as a staff accountant for the PHJC. “I’m excited to learn. I’ll have a new team to work with. Some things will be the same, but there will be welcomed challenges,” she said.
Desiree and Gaylene, who are both grateful to be rehired as PHJC coworkers, reminisced about the bitter and the sweet that forged their friendship like moving through the pandemic; and the good times, like the hallway decorating contests featuring The Polar Express and Elf on the Shelf last Christmas. Gaylene rolled to victory with the The Polar Express with a train that she and he husband built. “We learned a lot about each other over the years, through hugs, laughter, and tears,” Desiree said. “We had a great bond before, but it’s gotten stronger because we understood what the other was going through,” Gaylene added.