Ann Stamm began her work with Abby’s House as an overnight shelter volunteer in 1978. As a new resident of Worcester, she wanted to get involved with her new community. Finding Abby’s House was a wonderful opportunity for her. She loved the mission, and enjoyed the thoughtful training process she received before beginning her volunteer service. The shelter is a home and she kept that in mind when welcoming guests into the shelter to find healing and compassion.
As a shelter volunteer, Ann remembers completing intakes with women as they came to the shelter, and was struck by how amazing and brave the women were during their hardest days. “I’ve met some of the strongest women I’ve ever met in my life,” she says. She recalls a woman who regularly came to shelter for a few nights, always with bruises from her alcoholic husband, who didn’t want to see her injuries as they made him unhappy. Ann remembers, “It was my job to welcome her, but not necessarily help her process anything or criticize any choices. We are there to listen and support, and I always welcomed her and made her feel safe and comfortable.”
The strong women were not only the guests, but the staff and volunteers. She worked with Elaine Lamoreaux, the first Executive Director of the shelter, and Founder Annette Rafferty, and so many volunteers that she remembers well. She loved working with a second volunteer for shelter overnights when all 9 shelter beds were full, as she felt like she could do more than just meet basic needs. With a second volunteer, they could really welcome women and provide a great experience for women experiencing difficult circumstances.
After a new job made her unable to be a shelter volunteer at Abby’s House, Ann stayed in touch with the Abby’s community by attending celebrations and events like the dedications for new Abby’s properties and annual yard sales. Today, Ann has become more involved in the mission of Abby’s House. She served on the Board of Directors from 2016 – 2022, and she currently serves on the Development Committee, Spring-Tacular Auction Committee, and is a dedicated donor.
Ann is one of the more than 3,500 annual donors who support the life-saving work that Abby’s House provides. Even though many years have passed since she first entered the shelter, Ann still speaks enthusiastically about Abby’s House to friends, family, and the community. She has invited new donors, assisted with events, and so much more to continue her work with the organization.
When nominating Ann, a woman wrote, “Ann exemplifies the values of Abby’s House because she is warm, welcoming, inclusive and supportive of everyone who walks through Abby’s doors, whether they are guests, staff, volunteers or board members.” Executive Director Stephanie Page also speaks highly of Ann, “Ann exemplifies Annette’s generous spirit of service in commitment to women’s needs. When applying for the Board of Directors, Ann wrote, ‘I have a long-term commitment to women’s issues, and appreciate the spirit of love and acceptance that Abby’s – under the care of Annette and all the other wonderful staff and volunteers – provides to women who are in need.’ She goes on to say, ‘All women are first and foremost people and should be treated with love, respect and dignity. They find this acceptance of them as a person of worth and value at Abby’s.’ Ann fosters this spirit through her volunteerism and by getting to know staff and volunteers and appreciating each person who she meets. She is a remarkable member of the Abby’s House community, understanding deeply and genuinely Annette’s spirit, and she gives wholeheartedly to benefit others in all she does at Abby’s House.”
When asked what Abby’s House means to her, Ann said, “Abby’s has a wonderful community of caring people I have met over the years. The people that I cherish as friends. It’s amazing how a group of supportive women have come together in Worcester to support the mission of Abby’s House and be there for others.” She looks forward to the shelter’s next steps as a new renovation starts in June 2023. Ann can’t wait to see the welcoming home that she spent so many overnights in find a new look, provide more accessibility, offer more spaces for children, and double the number of beds from 9 to 18. While the building may change to fit the increased demand for shelter, the welcoming atmosphere that feels like home will continue at the shelter for years and many new volunteers to come.
The entire Abby’s House community commends Ann Stamm for her years of support for the women and children experiencing homelessness, and thanks her for her devotion to the legacy that is Abby’s House.