Name: Mary Perschy of Laurel.
Activities: Mrs. Perschy volunteers at Hospice Services of Howard County. She is co-leader of the Teen Grief Group, which she began a decade ago. Mrs. Perschy also enjoys quilting. As a summer project, she is making a quilt with Girl Scout Troop 1290, which she leads. Mrs. Perschy is a freelance writer and is writing a book on how to start a teen bereavement group. Her other interests include "focusing," a spiritual and psychological process of self-help, through the Marriottsville Spiritual Center.
Organization's Comments: Mrs. Perschy has volunteered at the hospice for 11 years. She was once the director of volunteers as a paid staff worker. She also worked with dying patients. Mrs. Perschy's background in teaching and counseling led her to start the Teen Grief Group, which she leads with Robin Wachur and Anne Barker.
"When she was a teen, she lost her mother," said Elaine Patico, director of volunteers at the hospice. "So her experience is very helpful to the teens who have lost their parents. She is extremely committed. Her personal characteristics, being nonjudgmental and easy to be with and talk to, really makes a difference to the people she helps," Ms. Patico said.
Volunteer's Comments: "I was a middle school teacher and then got my counseling degree. I was attracted to hospice for a long time. The philosophy merges with what I believe."
"My mother was diagnosed with cancer when I was 13 and she died when I was 16," she said. "When hospice started, I could identify with it a lot. When my mother died there wasn't this
service. There is a great need for helping teen-agers. They get lost in all the activity. There seemed to be a need, so I decided to start something."
Mrs. Perschy said she has learned a lot from the teens. The name of the group, Teen Grief Group, deliberately leaves "support" out of its title at the teens' request. They said the word made them uncomfortable. The group focuses on grief issues, such as dealing with difficult feelings, interacting with friends, declining grades and parents dating.
About Mrs. Perschy: She and her husband, Jim Perschy, have two children, Sean, 14, and Margaret, 10.
To make a nomination or receive a nomination form, call Jill L. Kubatko at 715-2813 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Nominations may be faxed to the office at 418-8016.