Schmitz wins Catholic Daughters of the Americas national essay contest

by Monica Schmitz


Monica Schmitz from Harvey proudly displays her certificate for winning the Catholic Daughters of the Americas national essay contest.

Monica Schmitz won first place in her age group in the Essay Division of Catholic Daughters of the Americas 2017 National Education Contest. This year's theme was “Helping the Needy Where You Live.” Schmitz wrote about her visits to two friends in Harvey's nursing home. She placed first at the local and state levels before advancing to the national level. She is the daughter of Ron and Janine Schmitz of Harvey. Her essay is reprinted here.

In the past year I have learned so much about what it is like living with polio, living through the Great Depression, and what it is like having to ride horse to school each day. I've been visiting with two wonderful people.

For Lent last year, I was pondering what I should give up and I came upon the idea of doing something I don't think many teens would do. I started to visit two people who live in the nursing home. Every Wednesday, I visited them for about a half hour. These two people do not have much family who visit them.

After the Lenten season, I have continued to go into the nursing home to visit. Both have brought me so many smiles to my face, I absolutely love talking with them. Every week we find something different to talk about.

The older man, Marvin, was born in 1917. He lived on a farm with his parents. He had no siblings. Marvin loved horses and still does. He had a few of his own when he was young. He rode them several miles to school each day. Marvin also loves dogs very much. He has always had a dog until he had to enter the nursing home.

Marvin is such a sweet man. I've known him since I was young. We have so many interests in common. I have horses and love animals, also. During our visits, it's so fun to talk about horses, cattle, farming days, and more. When he sees me coming, his face lights up. I can see it means a lot to him that someone cares about him.

At the end of the visits, I tell him, "Marvin, I've got to get going." He tears up when I leave. He loves company so much.

The older lady I visit is Viola. Viola is the sweetest person. She suffers from polio, a disease that affects your bones and muscles and is very painful. She doesn't show her pain – she's a very tough lady. And while she was young, she lived through the Great Depression and that made life even harder for her.

When I visit her, we always find something to talk about. Whether it be the weather, animals, farming, school, etc. During her first couple of years in the home, she helped the workers fold napkins and was always willing to help them. In the last few years, her polio has really limited her activity. She wears a leg brace because she is unable to stand without it. Viola doesn't let anything stop her, though. I love helping her in the dining room and pushing her in her wheelchair back to her room.

Our conversations brighten their days and bring smiles to their faces. They need that love and company. Plus, I enjoy the time spent with them.

I've learned a lot from this. Taking an hour out of your day can make another person's day. It makes you feel good about yourself, too. I also have learned a lot of history by hearing about their childhoods.

I still continue to visit. I still love it. Who would have thought that just thirty minutes of your day would make someone else's day?