Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Love for its ministry attracts two new development managers to Immaculate Heart

by Jami LeBrun, Inland Register staff

(From the Aug. 19, 2004 edition of the Inland Register)

Heather SiwinskiHeather Siwinski (left) and Laura Whitney now share development duties at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center. (IR photo from IHRC)

Immaculate Heart Retreat Center recently hired two new employees to share the responsibilities of development and fundraising for the retreat center.

Heather Siwinski, the new Development Manager, has years of experience in sales and marketing. After earning her bachelor’s degree in political science, Siwinski returned to Spokane to work at her family’s business, Floor Supply Distributing. After several years with the business, Siwinski began to feel the need to “spread (her) wings,” so when the position opened at the retreat center, she felt it was the perfect opportunity for her to branch out, while still working at her family’s business.

Siwinski was already familiar with the retreat center – she visisted several times with religious education classes she taught. She was also familiar with some of the programs, including the Mother’s Day Brunch.

“I love the retreat center,” she said. “It’s a comforting place and a great place to work on your faith.”

Siwinski hopes that her work at the retreat center will help to create a stable financial situation that will allow the retreat center to grow for years to come. Through consistent fund-raising efforts, she wants to see the retreat center expand its facilities, as well as increase support for people who wish to make a retreat but cannot afford the associated costs. She also hopes to increase awareness of the retreat center and what it does.

“So few people know about (Immaculate Heart) and realize the benefits of taking some time to be quiet and spend time with God,” she said.

Since joining the retreat center team, Siwinski has been busy. She has already created weekly tours of the retreat center, allowing people to visit on Tuesday evenings at 6:30, tour the facilities and grounds, and spend some quiet time in prayer.

Laura Whitney is the other half of IHRC’s development team. While Siwinski works hard to increase awareness of the retreat center and develop fundraising efforts, Whitney will coordinate special events, including the annual Octoberfeast and Mother’s Day Brunch. Whitney is also responsible for grant writing.

“We really support each other in what we do,” said Whitney. “We really want to work as a team.”

Whitney has spent the last 23 years working in the medical field, most recently as a respiratory therapist at Rockwood Clinic in Spokane. She has also spent a substantial amount of time at All Saints School, working to develop their school lunch program, as well as fund-raising.

Though she has limited experience in development, Whitney is very familiar with IHRC and its mission. She has been an avid volunteer for the last several years, including chairing the October-feast event and creating the annual Mother’s Day Brunch.

“I really have a drive to make this place so much more than it is,” said Whitney.

Part of that drive manifests itself in her desire for financial stability for the retreat center. Whitney hopes that through fundraising and grant writing efforts, the retreat center will be able to face advancing maintenance and remodeling costs without finding itself in debt. Whitney hopes that her work with Siwinski will encourage people to get involved at the retreat center and to experience retreats.

“It’s important to get people to realize in this day and age that they need this,” she said. “Time to be quiet is fulfilling, it’s important.”

Deacon John Ruscheinsky is the director of Immaculate Heart Retreat Center. He has high hopes for Siwinski and Whitney and what they can do for the retreat center.

“Heather and Laura are faith-filled,” he said. “They both have a very great love for the retreat center, our mission and our work. They’re excited about working with something that’s mission-based and getting people into the retreat center. They’re doing great work.”

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