Lilly Paro and Molly Shriver, two seniors at Connelly School of the Holy Child, received 2016 Outstanding Youth Volunteer Awards from Potomac Community Resources. (CS photos by Jaclyn Lippelmann)
Lilly Paro and Molly Shriver, two seniors at Connelly School of the Holy Child, received 2016 Outstanding Youth Volunteer Awards from Potomac Community Resources. (CS photos by Jaclyn Lippelmann)

Two seniors from Connelly School of the Holy Child in  Potomac – Lilly Paro and Molly Shriver – received 2016 Outstanding Youth Volunteer Awards at Potomac Community Resources’ 20th annual Patricia Sullivan Benefit Dinner on April 16. PCR provides 35 therapeutic, recreational, social and respite care programs for teens and adults with intellectual and developmental differences. The event was held at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center.

Paro and Shriver are also both leaders in their school’s chapter of Best Buddies, which promotes friendships for people with intellectual and developmental differences. They helped host Holy Child’s annual holiday parties for PCR members.

In the program booklet, Paro said getting to know PCR members “has been the most rewarding experience I have had during my high school years. I will never forget the time I have spent playing basketball, dancing with my ‘buddies,’ and making friends that will last a lifetime. To me, this isn’t service, it’s a true gift from God.”

Shriver said her involvement with Best Buddies and PCR shaped her high school experience and led to great friendships with PCR members. She hopes to continue serving with Best Buddies in college, and she offered thanks “to all the amazing PCR members for never  failing to put a smile on my face.”

Paro serves as president of Holy Child’s student body and was a captain for the school’s basketball and field hockey teams, and she volunteers with Catholic Charities’ St. Maria’s Meals dinner program for the homeless, and its Sanctuaries for Life outreach to unwed mothers and their children. Shriver is captain of Holy Child’s tennis team, president of its Best Buddies chapter and coaches a Special Olympics Unified Basketball Team.

Also at the dinner, the 2016 Patricia Sullivan Leadership Award was presented posthumously to Geraldine and Neil Coakley for their support for Potomac Community Resources and for many  philanthropic activities throughout the Washington area. They were commended for encouraging PCR’s longtime partnership with Connelly School of the Holy Child.

Speaking on behalf of   the four Coakley children at the dinner, Connie Caulfield said she and her brothers “grew up watching them (our parents) give back to the community throughout their lives.”

The Parish Outreach  Program of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington received PCR’s 2016 Outstanding Community Partner Award.

The program worked in partnership with PCR and the archdiocese’s Department of  Special Needs  Ministries to replicate programs for teens and adults with developmental differences in the Chevy Chase section of Northwest Washington, upper Montgomery County, the Brookland neighborhood in Northeast Washington, Southern Maryland, Prince George’s County,  and a new program in that county serving families whose first    language is Spanish.

Renu Dobriyal, a direct care staff member at PCR’s Tricia Sullivan Respite Care Program for the past seven years, received the 2016 Outstanding Staff Member Award. She thanked “members and their parents for inspiring me.”

Father William Byrne, the pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Potomac, served as the benefit chair and master of ceremonies.

The priest volunteers with PCR’s signature program, the Tricia Sullivan Respite Care Program, which on two Sundays a month provides therapeutic activities for members with significant needs. That program, and the dinner, is named for Patricia Sullivan, who was born with severe developmental differences. She inspired her parents, Joan and Jim Sullivan, to work with Msgr. John Enzler, then their pastor at Our Lady of Mercy, and with other parents, to form Potomac Community Resources. Patricia died in 1994.

Msgr. John Enzler, the president of Catholic Charities and chairman of PCR’s board, noted that even though Patricia could never speak or walk on her own, she inspired her parents and family, and her parish and community. He likened her to St. Therese of Lisieux, who promised to spend her time in heaven “doing good on earth.”

Jim Sullivan noted his wife Joan always believed that Patricia’s life had a purpose, and that was inspiring the establishment of Potomac Community   Resources. “God did have a plan for her,” he said.