by Shari Allwood, Joseph House Adviser
I’ve had the honor of being involved with Joseph House for
well over 20 years – frankly, closer to a quarter of a century.
The vast majority of those years were served alongside Caryn Rickelman, who helped bring to life a home for refugees from the idea stage to a wonderful home. For many years Caryn served as Chair of the Joseph House Board. Caryn passed away on February 18, 2020.
If one was to look for someone who had a genuine love for Joseph House and the refugees we’ve served through the years, one wouldn’t need to look further than Caryn. She was truly the epitome of welcoming the stranger – and caring for them after they were welcomed. In fact, she remained in touch with some of the first refugee residents until her passing. She never gave up caring.
I learned so much from Caryn. Her caring and unflappable nature were well-worth emulating. Her
dedication and devotion are hard to match in any organization. She loved to laugh and her many gifts
(including cooking a full homemade corned beef dinner for 200+ people at the annual St. Patrick’s Day
Party Fundraiser) helped to build Joseph House into the amazing home and service it is today.
When one serves with an organization for as long as I have with Joseph House, we have the opportunity to witness change. Caryn’s resignation from Joseph House, followed by her death, were difficult for me and others who knew Caryn well and loved her. At the same time, I’ve enjoyed watching Joseph House grow to not only serve residents but to also provide a clothing bank for Cleveland-area refugees and neighbors in the Joseph House community. We have a wonderful Chair in Sharon O’Flaherty, a great Executive Director in Maureen Powers, and a dedicated Board of Directors overseeing future growth. Joseph House received a number of donations following Caryn’s passing, in her honor. To all who acknowledged Caryn in this way, we thank you.