Praises sung for prison chaplain
Reverend Doris Haley receives citation from Chester County commissioners
WEST CHESTER » A dear friend of the Reverend Doris Haley put it this way, speaking of the essence of her character during a recent Chester County commissioners meeting at which her 40 years of service to the needy in the county was praised.
“Doris has only one direction to go and that is forward,” said Toby Gelman, who works with Haley in her post as chaplain of the Lions Club in Chester and Berks counties. “If you see Doris coming towards you it is for one of two reasons: To ask you to help her do something, or to offer to help.”
Haley, who disclosed her age at a precocious 39 years — “Don’t be putting that old age on me!” she exclaimed — was honored by the commissioners with a citation for “her unselfish dedication that has changed the lives of so many Chester County citizens, young and old.”
Haley works as chaplain at the county’s Pocopson Home for elderly residents, the Chester County Prison, the Chester County Youth Center for delinquent juveniles, as well as a multitude of community-based organizations such as the Lions Club and the Chester County Family Academy.”
Officials from Pocopson, the prison, and the Youth Center all appeared at the commissioners meeting Tuesday to sing her praises.
“We have the privilege of working with Doris Haley each and every day at Pocopson, full-time,” said Jacqueline McKenna, the facility’s administrator. ”She is just an incredible woman. Her energy is contagious, it is boundless.”
Dee Stadtmiller, an activities director of Pocopson, said she had worked with Haley for 25
years and “watched her spread her generosity, faith and good cheer to the residents, and staff, of Pocopson Home, and well as the community” many times in a musical fashion.
“Everywhere you go you can hear Doris playing and singing to her hearts content,” she said. “She makes a lot of people very happy with her music.”
In her role as chaplain, Haley has performed memorial services and weddings at the home, for both residents and staff, and during the holidays loads up a truck full of food and gifts to bring to those in need. “She is an amazing woman, and an asset to the community,” Stadtmiller said.
Warden Edward McFadden thanked Haley for her years of dedication, and was followed on the roster of celebrants by Gary Blair from the Youth Center who called her “a saint.”
“Doris has been willing to come in and share her life experience and her hurts,” Blair said. “That has resonated not only with our residents but our staff as well. We’ve been blessed.”
For her part, Haley said her heart was “overwhelmed” by the tributes. “My mother must be standing at the portals of glory, smiling down on me,” she said,
Coming from humble circumstances, one of seven children, Haley said the lessons of charity had been passed to her by her mother at an early age. “She taught us that if we didn’t have anything but a pot of beans with a little fatback, she taught us how to share. Not to wait for a person to ask for help, but if we knew that person was in need to go forth and help.”
The citations, signed by commissioners Terence Farrell, Kathi Cozzone, and Michelle Kichline, recognized Haley for dedicating her life “to those on the fringe of society,” detailing the many ways in which she has served those in need throughout the county.