Tom and Jodi Chermack stand at the carnival they organized and sponsored at SVdP's Hall of Banners.

A tribute to a legacy of service and love

Tom and Jodi Chermack honor the previous generation's legacy with a carnival

Tom and Jodi Chermack’s Dignity & Delight Fall Festival at SVdP continues the spirit of service and generosity established by Tom’s late parents

While reflecting on his upbringing, Tom Chermack can’t recall a time devoid of familial commitment and service to St. Vincent de Paul. His parents, Tom Sr. and Ann Chermack, consciously upheld values of sacrifice, service, and love within their home and actively embodied these principles within their community. Tom fondly recalls his parents as “both very giving and charitable people — not just towards St. Vincent De Paul, but in their overall approach to life.” He and his wife, Jodi, share, “We often refer to it as a joyful generosity — a characteristic that defined them.”

Tom shares vivid memories of his parents opening up their home to family and friends in need of a place to stay, initiating food and clothing drives, preparing meals for those in need and making donations whenever the opportunity arose. He expresses that “when there was a need, they knew it offered an opportunity to serve — my parents were always leading by example.”

As Tom and Jodi established their lives as adults in Scottsdale, becoming active parishioners at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, they endeavored to continue this legacy of “joyful generosity” in their new local community. With the goal of emulating Tom Sr. and Ann, the couple sought to maintain meaningful contributions to both their parish and broader community. “We tried our best to carry that [spirit] through with our family,” Jodi shares. “We have three kids and we started getting them involved in events and fundraisers, meal preparation and serving and food drives — trying to pass that loving legacy along to our growing family.”

Unfortunately, in late 2022, Tom Sr. and Ann passed away within weeks of one another. In the aftermath of their deep loss, Tom and Jodi resolved to celebrate and honor the legacy of service and compassion established by his parents, who were affectionately described by their son as totally devoted to “infusing joy into other people and finding ways to get people to smile.”

With longstanding connection to the organization, the couple toured SVdP’s Family Dining Room and immediately knew they had found the perfect program and population to infuse with joy. Every weeknight the Family Dining Room provides a hot meal to low-income families who rely on the meal service to help stretch their budgets. Alongside the meal, SVdP offers educational enrichment programming and homework help for children through the Dream Center, which is located within the dining room.

This program held even more significance for the Chermack family as they learned that the Family Evening Meal also serves the residents at Ozanam Manor, SVdP’s transitional shelter for those aged 55 and above, which allocates many bed spaces for veterans. Given Tom Sr.’s honored contributions as a Korean War veteran, the Chermacks viewed this as another meaningful way to honor his legacy of service.

The group of volunteers who served at the Chermack's carnival.
The volunteers who served at the carnival.

The Chermacks’ vision materialized in the form of a Fall Festival for the SVdP’s Family Dining Room coupled with a fundraising campaign which Tom described as “an opportunity to take both [his] parents’ generous and hospitable personalities and apply them in a way that were also joyful and silly.”

Plans swiftly took shape: carnival games, prizes, festive foods, and over 40 volunteers made up of friends, coworkers, and industry connections. The Chermacks also secured several corporate sponsors who generously contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the fundraiser. After close collaboration with the Family Dining Room team, everything fell into place, and on October 12, 2023, the Fall Festival welcomed families into a joy-filled evening of laughter and play.

A young boy at the carnival enjoys cotton candy which has smudged all over his face.
A young boy picks a piece of candy as a prize at the carnival at SVdP's Family Evening Meal.

The event radiated excitement, with joy evident on every attendant’s face.“ To see the smiles walking around that room... the guests seemed to have an amazing time,” Tom says.  

“What we were excited to witness was when we opened the dining room doors and saw all the people lined up along the street, waiting to come in, with eagerness and enthusiasm on their faces.”

Tom also saw the memorial event as the perfect way to introduce many community members and groups to SVdP for the first time. He shared, “What we wanted out of that day was, and I said it to our generous volunteers and sponsors, ‘We're glad you're here today. We really hope you’re here tomorrow,’” Tom said. “We heard from several friends and colleagues that they had never been to SVdP and never participated in anything like that before: They're interested. They want to do more... For us that's what made this event a meaningful success.”

By the end of the event and their fundraising window, the Chermacks were able to raise over $48,000, thanks in no small part to the generous $10,000 matching gift the Chermacks themselves donated. With the funds raised to date, The Ann & Tom Chermack Endowment has been established to continue the Dignity and Delight Festival for years to come.