Margie Tarpey spent 30 years in the nursing field. Giving back and helping others was second nature to her. And, her belief that “to whom much is given, much is asked,” grew out of her strong faith and living a very blessed life.
“I couldn’t live my life if I didn’t feel I was giving back,” Tarpey said.
After years working, she knew she would volunteer after retirement and give back to her community. About three months prior to retiring in 2001, she read a story in the Naperville Sun about a new nonprofit—Naperville CARES. She called the organization and started volunteering.
“I immediately knew it was a good fit,” she said.
Naperville CARES helps provide temporary assistance for people in need, whether providing money for utility bills, medical bills or rent payments.
She worked steadily with the nonprofit and was on the board of directors and president of the board at one time, she said.
Extension of faith
Drawing on her experience at CARES, she became aware of the importance a St. Vincent de Paul Society can have for a church. Another extremely important part of her life is her church and her religion, Tarpey, 68, said. She attends and was the president of the service ministry commission. During her time on the commission, she was spurred to act.
She went to her parish council and the church’s pastor and asked for permission to start a St. Vincent de Paul Conference at the church. The organization now has about 20 dedicated people helping to make the program extremely successful, she said.
The members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society answer calls on a hotline and do assessments, she said. The group provides support to those in need, sometimes helping to pay bills or referring clients to other social service agencies.
“We make house calls to show our support and concern for our neighbors,” Tarpey said.
Along with her work at Naperville CARES and the St. Vincent de Paul Society at St. Raphael’s, she also volunteers at . She started out registering new clients and is now involved with the nonprofit’s empowerment program.
Tarpey is very involved with all of the nonprofits where she volunteers and her services includes acting as the chair of the restaurant committee for Naperville CARES' fundraiser, which takes place on April 21.
“To be able to witness and to be able to be a part of the really sacred stories people share with me and in my own humble way to be able to offer emotional support and in some cases financial support is humbling,” she said.
Naperville may be a prosperous community, but she said there is a great need for assistance for many people. “There are many who go to bed hungry and who are unable to pay their rent.”
“It is an extension of my faith to help other people,” she said.
Family of service
Tarpey's husband, Tom, also volunteered at for many years until health problems required him to stop, which was hard for him to do, she said.
Giving back was passed on to her children. Her oldest child, Mike, is a lieutenant colonel in the Army and a medical doctor who will soon be the division surgeon for the 82nd Airborne. Her middle child, Tim, lives in Milwaukee and is the vice president of his diocesan St. Vincent de Paul Society. Her youngest child, daughter Kate, is the COO of Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Greater Milwaukee.
“I consider it a privilege to be allowed into peoples’ lives and to be a part of their pain and suffering and to help alleviate it,” she said.
Tarpey grew up in Indianapolis and went through Catholic school. Her faith and belief in the principals of Christianity, following the example of Jesus Christ and the principals found in the Beatitudes have guided her.
She has had her own trials, as her husband has faced life-threatening illnesses over the last few years.
“My prayer has always been ‘Lord let me accept whatever happens, give me the strength and courage to accept it,'" she said. "… Whatever happens, I pray I have the strength and courage to go on.”
The strength she finds in her faith allows her to do what she does as a volunteer. She said that whatever might come her way, she would find solace in helping others.
“I am blessed with strength and an abundance of energy,” Tarpey said. “It would be a waste to not get up every day and help others.”