Sometimes your own innate joy for hope and a better world makes you a hero. You see someone who inspires you. It’s not because you are consciously trying to be “good.” It’s just because their joy is contagious and you want to be a part of it. Or maybe it’s that you notice that someone was dealt an unfortunate hand and needs a little helping out and you’re available for them. That’s how it was for Terry Apple, who has been retired for six years after a 44-year career in telecommunications.
Apple has been involved in her church, St. John Neumann in St. Charles, since its inception and was never really involved beyond going to weekly services. She retired and shifted some of her free time to the church. Her Everyday Hero nominator Mark Hauser explained: “ … she serves as a eucharistic minister at Mass and to the home-bound of our community. She leads a weekly Bible study called The Other Sisters of Martha and serves as an aide for a second-grade religious education class.”
In her own words, Apple said: “I helped one of the Catechists with her second-grade class last year for a short time and just fell in love with the curiosity, energy and honesty they exhibited. When I was asked to continue full time this year with the same age group, I couldn’t say no.”
Apple really found her calling when she got involved with being a friend to abused women. Hauser said: “In 2010, retired police Officer Jim Kintz asked Terry to join the ministry to victims of domestic abuse at St John Neumann. Without hesitation, she became a volunteer and now works with domestic abuse victims to provide prayer, personal support, resources and referrals to professional agencies.”
Although Apple provides invaluable services to these women, she explains her journey humbly: “I was sitting in church one Sunday in October [Domestic Violence Awareness Month] six years ago listening to a sermon given by a priest from Chicago who started a ministry and awareness among his parishioners years ago. He said if anyone was interested there was a representative from the SJN ministry who would answer questions after Mass. That is when I met Jim Kintz, and the rest is history. Jim has been involved with victims for many years. His passion is very contagious, and I am still learning.”
Like the innocent energy of the second-graders, Apple was inspired by Kintz and wanted to be involved. Her own passion is evident when she talks about her ministry: “One in four women is in an abusive relationship and doesn’t know it or, even worse, know how to escape. Many reasons come into play – financial fears, taking children out of a home and the father figure, being isolated from family and friends, and the list goes on.”
She continued: “Our ministry has a list of over 50 ‘F’ words that are given as reasons for staying in the relationship. All the abusers inflict the same kind of emotional control and rage, but each victim’s story is extremely personal, as they truly feel they won’t be believed or are an isolated case.”
Apple’s reach is pretty broad: “They come to our ministry from all over the Tri-Cities and most often are not even members of the church. It is a huge step for them to reach out just to talk. We offer a wide range of resources and will accompany the victim to court for the felony trial if the abuser was arrested or civil court when they finally decide to leave. The divorce process takes so long, and most of these women do not have a support system in the area.”
Women who are isolated by a controlling abuser might not have any friends. They might be geographically far from family and leaving the only source of stability, even if it is horrible, might seem insurmountable. Having a friend close by can give the courage and support to take those first steps and start healing.
Even though Apple is a source of stability for these women she returns to her church for inspiration: “I have met so many wonderful people through church. The fact that the majority of people are truly concerned for each other and want to help in any way is so positive.”
Apple also has a rich life outside of her ministry. She loves her church, but she also has other interests.
“I love trying new restaurants, wandering around this beautiful area, and travel with friends,” she said. “I get lost in a library, and the best treat is being with my granddaughters.”
Apple was in the right life situation and in the right place to be inspired to be involved in something new for her. The idea is to be open to the inspiration around you. See the positive things in life and allow them to bring richness to your life the way the second-graders bring joy to Apple. Or when you hear something that moves you and you are available to be involved in it, do it. Apple is an Everyday Hero because she took that step.
The Apple lowdown
Who she is: Terry Apple, retired and active volunteer at St. John Neumann Church
Town: St. Charles
Family: Daughter, her husband and two granddaughters, 17 and 16
Hobbies: “I love to read, swim, and walk.”
Fun fact: “I’ve read this question in the [Kane County] Chronicle over the years, and I honestly am not sure how I would answer, except I was raised in a very Irish family, which – given a multitude of personalities – has memories which we live over and over again at get-togethers.”