The holiday season is based on giving and gratitude. For one Mt. Laurel, NJ woman, Rosie Lemansky, her life revolves around these principles every day. In 2006, after the tragic loss of her brother, Roger Garrett, to a brain hemorrhage, she decided to begin giving back. Although Roger’s death was heartbreaking for Rosie and her family, they made the selfless decision for him to be an organ and tissue donor. This choice to say “yes” has allowed Roger’s legacy to be one of generosity and compassion. It has also encouraged Rosie to become a passionate advocate for organ and tissue donation.
Each Tuesday morning, Rosie is at the Gift of Life Howie’s House, volunteering her time and making a difference in the lives of transplant patients and their families who are staying at the House. Created in 2011, Gift of Life’s Gift of Life Howie’s House is a “home away from home” for individuals seeking transplant-related care in Philadelphia. Rosie helps stock the pantry at the Gift of Life Howie’s House, talks with patients and cooks for the Home Cook Heroes program, which provides homemade meals for the House’s guests.
“It’s so wonderful being at the Gift of Life Howie’s House, and it feels good to meet so many recipients and other donor families.” said Rosie. “When Roger passed away, I didn’t know anything about donation or all of the people waiting. At the hospital, our Rabbi assured us that Roger being an organ donor was the greatest mitzvah that a person can do, and we made the decision for him to donate. Thinking about all of the people who he helped, it has brought my family a lot of happiness.”
As Hanukah begins this year, Rosie reflects lovingly on her brother and is grateful that she knows he enhanced people’s lives – both in life and in death. “I’ve heard a lot of different beliefs about organ donation, and I tell people my story so they can see another side. It is really the worst time in a family’s life when someone dies, and it is really hard. But I know that after the fact, my brother being a donor is the one light that has brought me joy.” she said.