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People Taking Action: Widow helps others cope with loss

Posted at 7:57 PM, Apr 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-21 19:57:05-04

Virginia Beach, Va. - She's a 91-year-old widow, described by her friends as an "angel sent from above" who for more than two decades has been taking action comforting others going through a loss.

So we surprised Julia Mullarney at Virginia Beach Christian Church where she's a regular volunteer. We told her we've been hearing some good things about her from Maureen Diton.

Maureen read from a hand-typed letter she wrote. "I would like to introduce to you a lady I have known and admired for 20 years. Her name is Julia Mullarney."

Fighting back tears, Maureen shared Julia's community impact through a local widowed person's support group. "Her exceptional loyalty and devotion to this group spans more than 24 years. She has welcomed and comforted hundreds of grieving widows and widowers through the years, myself included."

That group meets every week at Virginia Beach Christian Church. Maureen says Julia has racked up thousands of hours in these sessions and manning support phone lines.

"I remember when I called the hotline and it was Julie that answered. She's got a knack for saying the right thing at the right time she truly does."

In addition to the work Julia has been doing at the church with the widowed person's support group, she has been very involved over the years with AARP and two other groups in the community raising awareness about issues affecting senior citizens.

For those reasons, we presented Julia with a NewsChannel 3 People Taking Action award and a $300 Visa gift card from our community partner Southern Bank.

NewsChannel 3's Kurt Williams asked her what keeps her going after all these years.

"Being here--being here keeps me going, interacting with all these wonderful people." She added, "Well if you don't do anything, you're gonna sit on the couch and wither away."

Julia truly believes volunteering keeps her young. She also had some advice for those who also want to take action.

"Well I think if you want to do something, get off your duff and do it!"