Arlene Costanza Sustar knows what brings smiles to the retired Sisters – friendly dogs and refreshing ice cream!
So, why not send a Bruster’s ice cream truck to the Motherhouse on a sunny Sunday afternoon, mused Arlene, who is a volunteer with Pets with Heart, a pet therapy outreach of the Sisters.
Arlene and her husband, Ladd, decided to pay a portion of their stimulus check forward by treating the Sisters to favorite flavors of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, and more creative confections of southern banana pudding, cappuccino, and chocolate peanut butter cookie dough.
“We are retired, and, fortunately, our needs are being met,” Arlene says. “But so many others are hurting because of the pandemic.”
As they discussed options for sharing their stimulus funds, the couple thought about the Sisters who love ice cream and “just wanted to put smiles on their faces and give them a memory.”
Arlene’s memories of the Sisters of St. Joseph date back to St. Titus grade school, and Mount Gallitzin and Quigley high schools where her teachers’ impact is palpable even today.
In an emotional reflection, Arlene says, “Sister Jean (Concetta) Ortenzo opened up a whole new world of the arts to me and others who came from small communities. She introduced us to opera, ballet, and paintings. It was an opportunity we otherwise might not have had.”
With a laugh, Arlene recalls how Sister Ruth (Joseph Ann) McDade enthusiastically told (and retold!) the story of Hannibal crossing the Alps in her passionate effort to “electrify the students with a love of Latin.”
Five years ago, Sister Pat Montini, who co-founded Pets with Heart with Sister Sharon Costello, invited Arlene to serve as volunteer administrator of the program. Arlene, who attended Quigley with Sister Pat, embraced the chance to re-direct her corporate job skills and give back to the Sisters.
“Arlene not only brings her professional background to Pets with Heart, but also her commitment to our mission,” says Sister Pat, expressing gratitude to her and her husband for their dedication and faithfulness to the Sisters.
Over the years, Arlene has continued to cherish her relationships with Sisters, celebrating their Jubilees, mourning their losses, making funnel cakes at the Harvest Festival, volunteering with Pets with Heart, and, of course, sharing ice cream and memories with former classmates and teachers.