Benedictine Sisters of Erie Home Home

Meet SBEC Volunteers

Neal and Sharon Mosher

Neal and Sharon Mosher, SBEC volunteers

Emigrants to Canada, Neil and Sharon Mosher know first-hand the challenges of moving to a new country. Yet, their own personal journey did not begin to prepare them for what they encounter as volunteers at SBEC. They left the US in 1970. “We were voluntary immigrants and knew we could go back at any time. Canada, while different from the US, was not a cultural shock for us.” The immigrants they work with today, however, are refugees fleeing war, persecution, and economic strife in countries vastly different from the US or Canada. “There is no going back for these families.” Sharon and Neal travel from Ontario once a month to assist with the complex transition these families face.

As Oblates of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Neal and Sharon immediately saw the needs at SBEC and ways in which they could help. There were many refugees needing assistance with English and cultural assimilation. They bring much-needed skills to the challenge: Sharon was a teacher for 27 years and Neal has done some adult education work. When they arrive at East 10th Street, Sharon goes immediately to Sister Audrey’s classroom. Often there are students who need intensive one-on-one tutoring and this is where Sharon has been a big help. “Sharon bonded immediately with the students and treats all of them with respect and care for their needs”, observes Sister Audrey, a teacher at SBEC. “Sharon and Neal have been volunteering for several years and both have big hearts.”

Sharon is particularly drawn to the Benedictine Sisters of Erie focus on women and children and finds ample opportunity to support that mission in her work at SBEC. “Anything we can do to educate and support these women will reap rewards as they, then, become good role models for their children.” Sharon was particularly influenced by one woman, a widow with eight children, who took in two orphans. “She puts in a full day here in the classroom, then goes home to a busy household. The hardships she has endured seem insurmountable to me.”

Neal sometimes teaches and other times assists Executive Director, Nancy Sabol, with special projects. “I’m a jack of all trades and Nancy always has an interesting adventure in store for me!” Nancy Sabol observes: “Non-profit organizations operate on a shoe string. Volunteers are a life line for us. We are so fortunate to have Neal and Sharon as faithful partners in the work we do.”

What advice would Sharon give to prospective volunteers? “This is not just a ‘good deed’ to make you feel better. You need to be honest with yourself about whether this is something you can do. If so, it is VERY rewarding. I often finish up thinking this is the best day I’ve had in a long time!” Neal, too, has found the experience to be transformative. “I’ve discovered a sense of fulfillment in my life that I have not had in a long time. To be connected with others who share a vision is very powerful.”