Towne Salute: Sheryl Sieracki of Wellness House of Annapolis
Jul 06, 2016 02:53PM ● Published by Becca Newell
After leaving a career in corporate publications that spanned more than three decades, Sheryl Sieracki decided to do something she’d always wanted to do, but, prior to retirement, had never found the time.
She wanted to volunteer and do so at an organization she felt passionate about.
In 2009, Sieracki was introduced to Wellness House of Annapolis and immediately felt a connection. The organization, founded in 2006 by Dr. Kelly Sullivan, offers programs and services to cancer patients and their families and caregivers.
“Cancer runs in my family. My father had died of cancer and my sister had died of cancer,” she says. “I just thought ‘this is a great opportunity.’”
She joined the events committee and soon found herself also seated on the La Fiesta committee, an offshoot of the former group that’s dedicated to planning the organization’s largest annual fundraiser. For five years, Sieracki helped manage and organize the successful event, sitting as chair or co-chair for three of those years.
But in 2011, she experienced the nonprofit from a different perspective, joining as a member following a colon cancer diagnosis.
Sieracki describes the nonprofit’s locale—on the grounds of a horse farm, located along Forest Drive—as an oasis where those battling cancer can escape their everyday troubles. For Sieracki, refuge at Wellness House came in the form of complimentary Reiki massages and meeting fellow cancer patients within the support groups.
“When you’re diagnosed with cancer, you become part of this community that you never really wanted to be a member of, but it’s so supportive,” she says. “And at Wellness House, it’s even more so.”
Having recently celebrated her fifth anniversary of being cancer-free, Sieracki continues volunteering at the organization as a house hostess. Once a month, she welcomes guests to the center and helps with whatever is needed, from workshop prep to laundry. She also continues to pursue her love of writing in creating Wellness House’s weekly events e-newsletter that lists upcoming seminars, activities, and classes available to its members.
Donating a few hours each week to Wellness House leaves Sieracki enough time to focus on another interest: storytelling. Combining her publishing background with her dedication to helping others, she established Legacies of a Lifetime, producing “legacy books” to preserve one’s life story.
“I’m doing something that I think matters and that makes a difference in people’s lives,” she says.
The process is simple. She interviews a person, guiding the conversation to reveal the arc of their story and edits those tales into a narrative for family and friends to treasure.
“It’s such rewarding work,” she says.
And while her new endeavor keeps her days fairly busy, she still manages to find time for Wellness House, not only because of her love for the organization, but because she recognizes its importance in the community. With that understanding, it’s no surprise she’s eager to recruit more volunteers to lend a hand, particularly when it comes to event planning.
“When I put the newsletter together, I’m amazed at all the events that are coming up and everything that’s going on,” she says. “It’s a wonderful organization.”
For more information, visit annapoliswellnesshouse.org.