From Manhattan to Maylene

By RENE’ DAY / Community Columnist

You might not recognize Faye LaCagnina’s name, but if you’ve spent much time at Shelby Baptist Medical Center in Alabaster or Veteran’s Hospital in Birmingham, you most likely will recognize her smiling face and twinkling eyes. Certainly, if you were lucky enough to spend time talking with her, you won’t forget. Faye is one of those inspiring people who make the world a better place and who spreads joy as if every day were Christmas. If new friends are, as the old song relates, the “silver” in life, then Faye is platinum.

Faye LaCagnina’s desire to make a difference has been rewarded by multiple organizations. (Contributed)

A recent visit in her lovely home yielded abundant information about this ball of energy. A relatively “new” resident of Shelby County, her life and work has taken her throughout the country. She moved from New York – Manhattan, to be exact – to Maylene several years ago in order to be closer to great-grandchildren. She admits that there was a period of “adjustment” to the area – life is “slightly” slower-paced here. Trains are abundant in Alabaster, she relates, they just aren’t the mass transit variety. However, it didn’t take Faye long to find a way to increase the energy in her new home. And, she quickly found a way to pursue her true passion – volunteering.

Today, she is an active member in Positive Maturity’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and logs more than 47 volunteer-hours a week. Most of them are spent sharing the “wait” time with the families of patients undergoing surgery at Shelby Baptist. She also has a special love for those who served America and likes to work with veterans in various locations around the Birmingham area. In her “spare” time, she opens her home to a variety of ladies’ luncheon groups and especially enjoys hosting her Sunday School class from First Baptist Pelham. She is also a familiar presence in several of the local Shelby County nursing homes and regularly visits with the residents. In fact, she had been delivering presents to friends at a nearby home before my arrival with six other ladies for lunch.

Phyllis Davis met Faye while waiting on her daughter to finish a hospital appointment several months ago. Since that first encounter, the two have become, as Faye relates, “new best friends.” This was the second time LaCagnina had invited Phyllis and a group of her friends to lunch. If such behavior seems a bit odd to you, then you haven’t met Faye LaCagnina. Her husband, Richard, is a strong supporter and helps facilitate Faye’s “work” with others. The many citations and awards plaques lining their home office give testimony to this citizen’s value.

During this time of year, when focus seems to be on “getting” rather than on “giving,” it’s nice to meet someone like Faye. She reminds us of the true spirit of the season. A small plaque on her wall reads, “You make a difference in the world.”  And, the Alabaster area is proof that, indeed, she does.