It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of our sister, Donna. She passed away this past Friday, January 31st, with family by her side and is survived by her brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews.
Donna was our sister, and yes, she was special: her special needs were to be loved and to feel a sense of belonging and purpose.
We want to take the opportunity to share a bit of Donna’s journey.
Donna resided in Lexington, Massachusetts, and was a Woburn High School graduate.
Donna endured discrimination and bullying throughout her life as a person who was special needs. This was before acknowledgment of bullying, and showing respect for those with different abilities, was mainstream. It was not uncommon for stores and restaurant employees to ask her if she had money before serving her. All too often, cab drivers refused to pick her up because she looked different.
In this time of great sorrow, while it’s tempting to focus on those that were mean or cruel to Donna in her lifetime, it is with joy and honor for Donna that we focus on those that treated her with kindness and compassion, not something less than, but equal to themselves.
For the past ten years, Donna was a resident of the Avalon Apartment complex in Lexington. The management team at Avalon Apartments always treated her with respect, kind-heartedness and consideration. Her neighbor, John, would often cook for her and help her with rides and shopping as well.
A huge thank you to the management and staff of the local stores in the Lexington and Waltham area. Donna could be regularly seen chatting it up with the employees at Star Market, Dunkin Donuts and Papa Ginos, and they treated her with dignity and respect.
Wendy, the Manager at Papa Ginos in Waltham, and her fantastic delivery driver Jim, always treated Donna kindly. Jim brought the pizza into Donna’s apartment, set it up, and spent time chatting with her. Never accepting a gift for his kindness, and even calling to report on how Donna was fairing that day.
The manager at the now-closed Friendly’s restaurant in Waltham was offered money to call a cab for Donna, and he said “Don’t be silly! We love her and we’re happy to help.” We are forever grateful to the managers at the local Stop & Shop who were patient with Donna and also called her cabs. Thank you, all!
Thank you to the entire management team at the Edinburg Center, where Donna had been a long-time client. You were always patient with Donna and helped her through many challenges.
Then there are Donna’s Angels:
An enormous thank you to Vanessa B of the Edinburg Center, you went above and beyond in all that that you did for Donna. Your positive attitude and patience are a gift. While we know you are saddened by Donna’s passing, please take comfort in knowing you give hope to those who have challenges and disabilities who otherwise wouldn’t have a voice.
The Nurses at the Hellenic Nursing home in Canton, where Donna spent the last several months of her journey. Mark, Joan, Marylyn, and especially Barbara. We can never repay the love, compassion kindness that you showed to Donna from the moment she arrived until she left your care.
It gives us great comfort to know that Donna has joined her parents and grandparents, whom she so missed.
A Funeral Mass will be held Thursday, February 13th at 10:00 AM at Sacred Hearts Parish, 297 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148. Donna will then be laid to rest at Oak Grove Cemetery, 230 Playstead Road, Medford, MA 02155.
In lieu of any flowers or gifts, in memory of Donna, say hello to someone in a wheelchair, visit someone in a nursing home, or do something kind for someone.
Sis, we’ll forever miss you and love you. xoxo.
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