Since becoming a volunteer at St. John’s Home in 2005, Mike Perri has become part of an extended family of fellow volunteers, staff members, and residents. Whether as a driver, helping out on picnics, field trips, the golf tournament, at the gift shop, or most recently behind the counter of the old fashioned ice cream shop, Mike has contributed considerably and made many people smile over the last 10 years.
“Any place they needed me I went,” Mike said with a smile of his own in January 2015. For the first few years he came in three or four days a week. But at the age of 90, he has since cut back to just working on Fridays. Mike was inspired to become a volunteer thanks to the quality of care provided for his late wife, Mary. She lived at St. John’s Home for 22 months and passed away in 2005.
“I met a lot of people during that time,” Mike remembers. “It was like I lost something but gained something else,” he said of being a volunteer. He has also volunteered at Honor Flight for the past three years and at the Red Cross for the past 17 years.
Mike still lives in Greece at the home he and Mary bought in 1952. The couple had three daughters, two who live in the Rochester area and another who lives in Nashville, TN.
Before starting a family of his own, Mike grew up on Lewis Street and served in the Army from 1945-47. He went on to work at Kodak in the metal finishing department for nearly 42 years before retiring at the age of 59 in 1984. He and Mary were married for 54 years. “She was a real good woman,” Mike said. He remembers taking her to sit by the fireplace during his frequent and extended visits.
In addition to staff and volunteers, Mike met many relatives of other residents during the time he visited with Mary, and even more over the past 10 years. “I see some of them in church and other places and try to get some of them to volunteer,” he said. “You never stop grieving [for lost loved ones], but people do so in different ways.”
For Mike, being part of St. John’s Home as a volunteer has helped him feel connected to the place that took such good care of his wife.
And, of course the ice cream shop is the happiest place to be, complete with a juke box stocked with all the songs the residents love. Mike says fellow scooper Rita Rapp is also known to dance to a few of her favorite songs. “We always have a good time at the shop,” Mike said.