Periodically, a quotation becomes popular and it is then seen everywhere – on mugs, plaques, and in gift shops – and we become immune to its meaning, to the true message that it is hoping to convey. Just such a quotation truly is applicable to the influence that Mary Fetting has had here at the Franciscan Center. But, rather than being immune to it, I think all of us would agree that we are not unaware of her impact on our lives. That quote:
Some people come into our lives and quietly go; others stay for a while and leave footprints on our hearts and we are NEVER the same.
In the two years that mary has volunteered at the Center, she has done so much and touched so many – staff, volunteers and clients. Coming from a private practive in which she counseled primarily middle to upper class clients, she had no trouble at all relating to the poor, marginalized and broken people who come through our doors everyday.
Her warmth, grace and genuineness drew clients to her and in very brief contacts with them, she learned their stories. (who knew that one of our long time clients has a long work history as a jockey? Or that another client had played semi-pro football in Europe before experiencing problems with his vision? Mary did!) She discovered their troubles and recognized their uniqueness and their goodness.
Her personal friend who has worked at Baltimore City DSS for decades told her, “Now you’re doing REAL social work.” when she found out about Mary’s volunteer work here. It was not unusal for Mary to go the extra mile for her clients – bringing in household items for them, slipping them a few dollars (which she knew wasn’t suppose to happen), getting her grandson to go with her to a client’s home to hook up a TV and even returning to that client’s home when he was in danger of being evicted to help him organize and clean up the place.
She began to frequent the Dollar Tree on Joppa Road, (and loved it), first bringing in candy for the clients – Tootsie Pops for the kids; ultimately she began to buy children’s books to give to her ‘little mothers,’ as she called the young women who met with her. She urged them to read to their children.
From this beginning came her move to ask her niece, Mary Daley, who works at Bryn Mawr School to seek donations of books for the children of the Franciscan Center. At Christmas she became a one-woman Santa’s workshop; buying gift bags to fill with candy, small treats, and books for children.
And now, today, we gather here at Mary’s library, a beautiful legacy which she leaves us – a quiet, safe, peaceful setting where our children can learn to explore and expand their worlds through books and learn to love reading as much as Mary does.
Mary knew everyone on the staff from maintenance to administration, from volunteers to fellow interviewers and called us by name. With true interest she asked us about our lives and our stories. She mentored us, taught us, validated us, helped us in every way possible. Mary genuinely cared about us. And we knew it!
She always wanted to learn more and had mastered filling in at the second floor receptionist desk, and just before she left us, had learned how to acess the BGE website to screen clients for eligibility for a complicated grant – a fact of which she was so proud!
Mary shared her family with us, involving her grandson and granddaughter in direct service with our clients, bringing her son to visit the Center. She told us stories about her children and grandchildren, and her love for, and pride in her family was tangible.
There are so many wonderful things to say about Mary, but I’ll conclude by saying;
She came into our lives, stayed a while, and left footprints on our hearts. And we are forever thankful that she did!
These are the thoughts Judy Dobson shared about her dear friend Mary at the dedication of the Mary Fetting Children’s Library a few weeks ago. Our beloved Mary went home to be with her Creator yesterday evening. Our love and thoughts are with the Fetting and Lacy family, and all those who had the opportunity to be touched by this remarkable woman.