It was a trip to Europe with her brother and uncle that shaped Sherry Zeiter’s outlook on humanity. She describes laying eyes on Michaelangelo’s David for the first time at 17: “He was so beautiful, and you could see every vein and I stood there and I cried and I cried and I cried because it was so awesome and overwhelming and I thought…that’s marble. There’s no brain, there’s no heart, there’s no soul, and it moved me like this? I have to start looking at people like that because God made them. He was beautiful, but he was stone.”
She points to the young woman sitting on her right and through a smile says, “this girl’s got a heart.”
The young woman is Kaitlyn Bost and how the two came to live together under one roof has divine providence written all over it, or as Sherry describes it – “bizarre.”
Sherry Zeiter, twice-widowed and longtime resident of Clawson met Beth Collison, founder of Mary’s Mantle, by chance. During a casual outing to a local Catholic bookstore, Sherry began talking with a woman who would introduce herself as Beth and after it was revealed she knew Sherry’s little brother, the pair connected. It was then that Beth asked if Sherry had heard of her organization, Mary’s Mantle, a Catholic program that offers residence to homeless expectant women. The two parted ways as any small-talking pair does but they would soon reconnect.
Impressed and inspired by the program, Sherry, not long after meeting Beth, sent in an application to Mary’s Mantle and thought she’d spend her time rocking the babies of the moms who were a part of the program. But there was another plan at work.
“Next thing I know I got a phone call, ‘Sherry, we have this beautiful young lady who’s having a hard time in her brother’s basement. Maybe you could take her in once a month, just for weekends and you two do something,” Sherry explained. Without hesitation, she agreed.
Kaitlyn Bost fell on hard times when her mother tragically died in front of her when she was 18. After a few visits to a community shelter, living with her boyfriend, and spending some time on the street, Kaitlyn found out she was pregnant. Not believing abortion was an option for her, Kaitlyn found Mary’s Mantle, and despite a complicated and difficult pregnancy, she welcomed a beautiful baby boy and offered him for open adoption.
When Kaitlyn arrived at Sherry’s home for the first time, they explained there was an instant connection: “She comes in, walks around and goes can I move in? And I said yes. We’ve been together since,” Sherry said.
“We fight like cats and dogs,” Sherry jokes, “but we love each other.” The transition was smooth but not perfect as they each had to figure out how to accommodate one another’s expectations as well as balance out a medical condition that Kaitlyn has.
When told that it takes a person with a special sort of spirit and heart to welcome an essential stranger into her home, Sherry echoes the sentiment of her late grandfather who always told her, “everyone’s a stranger until you meet.” The pair have been together for almost two years and after developing a loving, fostering relationship, Kaitlyn is learning about the Catholic faith, how to cook and various aspects of healthy living. Though they both explain how difficult it is to meet new people when in your 20s, Kaitlyn has found a sense of belonging and community in both Guardian Angels Parish in Clawson and St. Anastasia’s Parish in Troy.
A pillar in her community
A deep love for the Clawson community is in Sherry’s blood. Her parents and grandparents lived in Clawson, and her family was formative in getting Clawson’s local Catholic Church, Guardian Angels, established in the area. It was her grandfather who dug the first hole for the building of the church and her maternal grandparents who bought the statues and the tabernacle. Her uncle was the first priest ordained at the parish and, bringing it full circle, another uncle is currently stationed at Guardian Angels as a deacon.
Clawson was Kaitlyn’s home from age ten to 18, too. She lived only blocks away from Sherry yet “had no idea who she was.” She went to the schools where Sherry’s son-in-law taught. For Sherry, a welcoming and inclusive community is just a trademark of the city she and her family have called home. For as long as she can remember, “It’s always been that way.”
Community at home
Sherry is working to build a communal spirit within her own home with Kaitlyn. Her spirituality and religious beliefs help shape the day-to-day living for her and Kaitlyn.
“I have this great devotion to guardian angels because they’ve helped me, I talk to them all the time, believe me, and I thank them all the time.” It’s through this devotion she stays connected to others through prayer: “I’ll say right out loud, ‘Send a legion of guardian angels to so-and-so.’” And it’s through this devotion she prays for Kaitlyn and her spiritual life. “She gets legions sent to her,” Sherry shared. “Or if she’s sad, I’ll say please tell Kaitlyn’s guardian angels to wrap his wings tighter around my girl.”
Kaitlyn’s contributions around the house help to form the familial-like bond Kaitlyn and Sherry share. Last August, Sherry unexpectedly injured her toe which rendered her in the hospital and months of moving with great difficulty. Kaitlyn was there to care for her – keeping the house, helping with meals and aiding Sherry in whatever way she could.
“If it wasn’t for her, I’d still be having difficulty moving around. She was an angel,” Sherry said.
As for what’s next, Kaitlyn still beams with pride when talking about her son. As she pulls out her phone to show a picture of him, she said, “He’s the cutest little guy you will ever see.”
Having an open adoption, she’s able to see him every so often and is sent pictures of him.
Currently, she and Sherry are comfortably settling into a new routine after Sherry’s injury last summer and Kaitlyn coming out of a medical scare due to a health condition earlier this year. Sherry explains they are looking into ways for Kaitlyn to finish her education and for her to continue to thrive in her health and areas of interest.
An unlikely pairing? Maybe. But tucked away in the heart of Clawson, the lessons of a European trip ring back and echo throughout their day-to-day living, all because a young woman decided to start looking at the people around her as God calls us all to, with a warm, welcoming spirit.