Reflections from Mary Ellen Storms
Neighbors Staff Member – 1980’s and Beyond
Shortly after her husband’s death, Mary Ellen Storms attended a meeting at her church and learned about a new service organization from Neighbors Executive Director Bob Adams. At the meeting, Bob informed her that churches in the surrounding area were coming together to help the community. She knew her husband would have supported Neighbors’ mission, so she decided to share the memorial funds given in his honor with Neighbors. That was just the beginning of Mary Ellen’s commitment to Neighbors.
Mary Ellen stayed connected to Neighbors through her church and it wasn’t long before Bob Adams convinced her to join the Neighbors team as part of the Special Friends program. The purpose of the Special Friends program was to connect people experiencing similar situations to create supportive relationships. Mary Ellen was responsible for finding people in the community who needed support and connecting them with a volunteer. As a young widow with a small child, Mary Ellen appreciated the flexibility Neighbors offered her so she could work and focus on raising her family. She frequently thinks back to those days and is very grateful for how she was taken care of as an employee and how much she learned. “It’s profound what Neighbors means to me. It is so deep in my soul,” she said.
During her career with Neighbors, Mary Ellen also worked with other social support programs such as Tele-Care, Stroke Club and Come As You Are. According to Mary Ellen, the most important work Neighbors has done in the community is to bring people of all different backgrounds and experiences together to support one another. “The community needs that support, especially during difficult times,” she said. Mary Ellen reminisced about gathering with different support groups at various community locations throughout the years and how much joy that brought her and those who attended the meetings.
Mary Ellen is happy to see that local churches still support Neighbors and sings its praises wherever she goes. Mary Ellen continues to live in the community and enjoys volunteering at her church, Church of St. Joseph in West St. Paul.
Thank you for your service to your community, Mary Ellen! Neighbors is proud to have you as part of our history.
This interview was conducted by Sophia Dahlke, Neighbors Intern and Volunteer, as part of the historical research for Neighbors’ 50th Anniversary Celebration (2022). For more information about anniversary events and to explore Neighbors’ history, click here.