Monday, July 21, 2003

Craft-master helps keep retirees busy and happy

Alice Andrew: Forgets own ailments to help others

By Janet Wetzel
Enquirer contributor

Alice Andrew of Fairfax works with residents in the arts and crafts room at Mercy St. Theresa Center in Mariemont.
(Gary Landers photo)
| ZOOM |
Alice Andrew has endured many life-changing experiences in the past several years. Severe back problems forced her to retire before she was ready, then a fall put her in the hospital. She wound up in a wheelchair a few years later. Complications from diabetes added to the challenges.

But some things have remained the same - her indomitable spirit, plus a strong determination to keep going and to help others along the way.

Those traits take her to Mercy St. Theresa Center in Mariemont every Monday to help residents at the retirement center make crafts. She takes many of the projects home where she spends another 30-35 hours a week putting on the finishing touches.

Andrew has continued her volunteer work at Mercy St. Theresa for 12 years. Even in 1994 after back surgery and in 2000 after knee surgery when she went to that center for rehabilitation, Andrew continued helping.

"Therapy doesn't make a full life," she said. "I asked them to bring some of the crafts to my room to paint. People stopped in to watch."

The crafts made by residents are sold at the annual Christmas boutique in December, and year-round in the gift shop.

"It's a lot of fun for the residents, and all the money goes back into making life more pleasant for them," Andrew said. "There are other volunteers who help. It takes many people to contribute to the whole."

Andrew discovered Mercy St. Theresa when her late mother moved there in early 1994. Andrew saw how much she and others enjoyed the crafts. Later that year, when Andrew had tumors removed from her spinal cord and went to the center for rehabilitation, she decided to help residents with the weekly craft sessions.

As a single mother of five children, Andrew has been busy all her life. She owned a craft shop at various times in Fairfax, before closing the final one in 1993. Income from her ceramics work was not enough to support her family. So she worked nights and weekends designing kitchens until the 1994 health problems forced her to retire.

Jackie Canter, director of volunteers for Mercy St. Theresa, called Andrew a marvelous, talented woman. "She's fighting a lot of ailments, yet she does outstanding work for us," Canter said. "I have many wonderful volunteers, but Alice just stands out because she's endured all these hardships, yet she's always here helping."


Do you know a Hometown Hero? E-mail Janet Wetzel (, or fax to 513-755-4150.

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