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Posted: 10/30/13

A LIFETIME OF COMPASSION. Above, from left, Nancy Kaspari of Addison Township was given the Lifetime Commitment Award for her years of service by the Macomb County Rotating Emergency Shelter Team (MCREST). Seen with her is April Fidler, executive director of MCREST. Below, Rev. Stephen Reckker of St. Clement of Rome Catholic Church and Nancy Kaspari, Christian services director at St. Clement.

(Photos courtesy of Jeanne Lerchen)

Kaspari recognized for
25 years of volunteerism

Observer Staff Writer
      To volunteer for 25 years takes dedication, and when asked what drove Nancy Kaspari to give that much of her time to helping homeless families, she said it's all about compassion.
       "Even when you get really frustrated you need to have some compassion for them," she said. "They're living a life we may not understand, and they're trying to understand what they're going through."
       Kaspari, an Addison Township resident, was the recipient of the Lifetime Commitment Award during the Macomb County Rotating Emergency Shelter Team's (MCREST) 25th anniversary celebration on Oct. 25, held at the Sterling Inn Banquet and Conference Center in Sterling Heights.
       Through a network of churches, the non-profit MCREST provides shelter, meals and other services to men, women and children 365 days a year until they can become self-reliant. As guests gain income, MCREST helps with transitional services such as rent assistance.
       Kaspari was one of nine founding members of MCREST. She said she was humbled to receive the award, but didn't volunteer with the hopes of being recognized.
       "Sure, we can all see homeless people, but when you step out of your comfort zone and do something for someone, you walk away with a wonderful feeling in your heart," she said. "To me it's a very good experience."
       Kaspari serves through the St. Clement of Rome Catholic Church in Romeo, working as the Christian services director. She said the church was one of the original congregations in MCREST, and is the only one that is open 24 hours.
       "It's just been a wonderful program where people want to give, want to be a part of," she said. "It's very, very rewarding."
       She said one of the main motivations for initially volunteering comes from her children, saying she always hoped there would be a place for them if they fell into difficult times.
       "I have four children, and I always wondered if they got in trouble if there would be anyone out here to help them," she said.
       April Fidler, MCREST executive director, said she has worked with Kaspari since joining MCREST 12 years ago. She said Kaspari has demonstrated dedication over the years, working from home when she was unable to physically be at the church.
       "Anybody who can't be there for the week but still takes time out to assist the homeless has a very genuine personality," she said. "She has done an excellent job, and has got excellent folks under her belt at the church."
       She said MCREST has grown ever since Kaspari helped establish it, growing from nine congregations in 1988 to more than 90. In 2011, MCREST gave more than 19,000 night of emergency shelter and 60,000-plus meals.
       "We've had some difficult times with the economy and state grants, but we still have to help people who are in need," Fidler said.
       Kaspari compared the experience of watching MCREST grow to seeing children graduate and go to college.
       "Thank you to everyone over the years for their help in any way to be a part of this program," she said. "There are a lot of wonderful people out there."
       St. Clement of Rome was also recognized during the 25th anniversary celebration for being a part of MCREST since its inception.
       For more information about MCREST, visit

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