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Rock-a-thon raises funds for Vincentian Home in McCandless

By David Paulk
Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Sister Sarah Geier has raised $1,300 for the Vincentian Home, and all she had to do was sit in a rocking chair.

But she wasn't alone. There were about 20 other rockers at the second annual Rocking for Residents fundraiser June 8 at the senior residence in McCandless.

Karen Kutzer, vice president for advancement for the Vincentian Collaborative System, which runs that residence and others, estimated the fundraiser collected an estimated $60,000. This amount includes the rock-a-thons two other Pittsburgh-area residences, Marian Manor and Vincentian de Marillac.

The event was an altered version of a walk-a-thon. Sponsors supported rockers who then rocked for a certain time. Some rocked for 15 minutes; others rocked for an hour. The event lasted three and a half hours. All of the rockers were volunteers and ranged from senior citizens to young adults to children.

Sister Sarah, of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, said her family has history with the home, which is why she participated. The order's local base is in McCandless.

“My father was a patient here, and my uncle was a patient here,” the sister said.

Another rocker who made a name for herself that day was Sister Laverne Sihelnik, also of the order. She rocked for an hour and raised $3,000. Her motivation to rock, she said, was inspired by her friends.

“I feel by rocking I give them a chance to support the facility,” Sihelnik said.

Kutzer said the money raised will purchase flat-screen televisions for Vincentian Home residents. The goals, however, were different for each home. Vincentian de Marillac also is getting televisions, while Marian Manor is getting therapeutic blankets.

Kutzer, who came up with the idea of a rock-a-thon, said organizers were aiming for $75,000. They raised $70,000 last year.

When Kutzer was coming up with a fundraising idea, she said, she wanted something new in which the entire community could participate.

“People in this part of the country are used to various ‘thons,' such as walk-a-thons, dance-a-thons and read-a-thons,” Kutzer said.

In an effort to make visiting senior residences more appealing, she decided to put a spin on the idea of a walk-a-thon.

“You get a little bored doing the same thing,” Kutzer said. “If you're visiting your mom or dad, you're probably thinking about what we can do.”

The entire complex catered to the event. There were about 100 volunteers, along with staff members, who spent most of the day transporting residents from one activity to another. Residents had a chance to enjoy popcorn, live music and swing dancing. The Pirate Parrot even made a guest appearance.

Raymond E. Washburn is the president and CEO of the Vincentian Collaborative System. One of his aspirations is to make senior residences more like communities. He said events such as the rock-a-thon are good catalyst for change.

“We're trying to move away from the concept of the traditional nursing home,” Washburn said.

David Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5804 or



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