Thursday, January 1, 2004

She spends her life helping those who need it the most


Hometown Hero

By Janet Wetzel
Enquirer contributor

[IMAGE] For the past 25 years, Lois Broerman of Bridgetown has headed up a massive Christmas program through St. Leo's Catholic Church
(Jeff Swinger photo)
BRIDGETOWN - People call Lois Broerman a connector. The description is apt.

She spends much of her life connecting people who need something to individuals or organizations that can fill the need.

She just completed her 24th year of heading a Christmas project through St. Leo Catholic Church, North Fairmount, which requires linking hundreds of volunteers at eight churches who work together to help give needy families a happy holiday.

Broerman's work begins in late October and ends in mid-December, when 1,500 to 2,000 gifts are distributed to needy children and senior citizens. Parishioners take the names from "Giving Trees," then buy and wrap gifts or food baskets that go to St. Leo's for distribution.

The Bridgetown widow, who has four children and seven grandchildren, never turns people away when they need help, year-round. When her phone rings and the caller needs housing or food or help getting a loan to buy land, she helps.

Broerman also works on church fund-raisers; visits friends and neighbors in the hospital or nursing homes; and has served on various boards for nonprofit organizations, such as the Zonta Club of Cincinnati, the Port Authority for Cincinnati's Brownfield Redevelopment and Mayerson Foundation.

A genetic disorder, demilonating neuropathy, has caused her muscles to weaken and deteriorate, forcing her to wear leg braces and use a cane. While that and poor night vision force her to do much of her good deeds by phone, she's undeterred.

She became a connector as part of her job as executive director of the North Fairmount Community Center. But her reputation for being caring and kind follows her home, where she often continues the help.

"Nothing stops her," said Ray Neyer, a center volunteer. "If every neighborhood and everyone had a Lois Broerman in their life, this world would be a lot better place."

Broerman said the kindnesses shown her by friends and neighbors who mow her grass and bring the newspaper to her door in bad weather inspire her to do more.

"I do a lot of helping and connecting people as part of my job, but I can't stop there. I have to help others just the way people help me.''

Do you know a Hometown Hero - someone in your community dedicated to making it a better place to live and helping others? E-mail Janet Wetzel at jjwetzel@siscom.net, or fax to (513) 755-4150.




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