Name: Wendy Saer
Parish: Our Lady of the Holy Souls
City: Little Rock
Family: Husband, Ted; six children; and 12 grandchildren
Why you want to know Wendy: Wendy founded a program called Safety Town back in 1984, and over the years, she has taught thousands of kids in central Arkansas how to stay safe on streets, sidewalks and at home. Every summer she hosts a one-week program for students entering kindergarten or first grade. Since moving to Little Rock in 1981, Wendy has been an active member at Our Lady of the Holy Souls Parish, serving as a Eucharistic minister and RCIA assistant in addition to helping her husband, Ted, who is a deacon at Holy Souls. Growing up in New Orleans, Wendy was surrounded by a vibrant Catholic community, and it helped form her into a devout Catholic.
What feeds you spiritually?
It’s a lot of things. I've got certain readings I do in the morning before I even get my day started. I need that. Sometimes just taking the time to go sit in adoration; I love doing that. Attending Mass, and even just family time can be a very spiritual thing for me. When you've got a family and you've got everybody together and everybody's getting along, let me tell you, that doesn’t happen all the time in families, so that can be a very spiritual thing. I just do things to try to keep Christ forefront in my life.
Why did you feel the need to start this program?
The topics we teach at Safety Town is information every child needs to know, but a lot of parents just don't take the time to teach it to them. It’s basic things like what side of the street to walk on and how to cross the street. One of our newest topics is dog bite prevention and what to do when strange dogs come running up to you. We even teach things such as fire safety and smoke alarms. One time, we had five grandchildren sleeping in our house and seven smoke alarms going off at night. It was a battery issue, but seven smoke alarms were going off, and not one child woke up. So now, every so often, we turn them on so they can hear it and know what it's going to sound like.
What’s something you’ve learned after years of running Safety Town that you didn’t realize when you began?
That 5-year-olds can handle a lot more than the parents think they can. At the end of the week, I'm always amazed at how much information these children not only have learned but have retained. One of the biggest things we use is music. We have songs that go with a lot of our lessons. Brian Kinder, who's a songwriter and musician here in Little Rock, wrote all my songs for me years ago. To me, it's how much a 5 year old can learn and retain in just a five-day class, and their parents will reinforce it. Then they never forget it.
What's something that motivates you to continue leading Safety Town?
It's something I feel like I'm really called to do. I still remember the day I felt like this was something I was supposed to start in Little Rock, and I never thought I'd still be doing it this long after, but I love it. I love teaching children. It's the excitement of watching those little eyes just light up and soak in all this information.
Do you think your Catholic faith influenced your decision to start Safety Town?
I think it did in the sense that I enjoy doing things for other people… When I founded Safety Town, I was in church when I felt like this is something I'm supposed to start and do. I love doing things for other people, it's a service in the community, and I think it definitely goes hand in hand.
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