GEORGIA — You don’t have to be with Deacon Dennis Moore and his wife, Marie, very long to realize that they have spent their lives doing for others.

Dennis has been a deacon at Ascension Catholic Church here for 10 years, and Marie serves as head of the Religious Education Program.

During their 44-year marriage the Moores have happily embraced the philosophy of giving to their community in many ways. But in recent years and as a result of Dennis’ illness, they have learned that receiving is just as important as giving.

In August 2013, Dennis started kidney dialysis three days a week at Fletcher Allen Hospital. Over the years his kidneys had been damage as a result of high blood pressure and sleep apnea. To alleviate the constant travel to Burlington, in November, 2013 Dennis and Marie learned how to provide the dialysis he needed at their home. Treatments were done five days a week each lasting five hours.

In order to offer Dennis the best possible hope of recovery his name was placed on the National Kidney Donor List and the search was underway. The Moores had to be prepared to wait until a suitable kidney donor was found. This search entailed locating someone from across the nation that met all the necessary criteria to be a match for Dennis.

The Moores’ two children both offered to be donors for their father but neither met the suitable criteria. A close friend stepped forward, as did one of Dennis brothers, but they were not appropriate matches. There were many stops and starts during this time, as another possible donor was located but didn’t work out.

Little did the Moores know. All along, Dennis’s kidney donor was closer than his own backyard.

Wanting more for her husband than just a life of dialysis, Marie was tested and in December, 2013 she was found to be a “perfect” match.

Marie “never questioned” she would be a donor. In fact, she was most thankful to be able to “give the gift of life” to her husband For Dennis the gift was “overwhelming.”

“How do you pay back the gift of life?” he asks.

Marie and Dennis’ close bond began years earlier when they met in the Operating Room at Fletcher Allen Hospital where they were both employed.

Marie was an OR/ER nurse and Dennis spent 35 years working in supply chain management. Ironically their employer proved to be an integral part of Dennis’ treatment and recovery, as well as for Marie who spent 10 days in Fletcher Allen due to unexpected complications during the transplant.

For Dennis, the first five days after surgery proved the most challenging.” It was then that he learned the kidney he received from Marie was not functioning. He was kept in isolation in the intensive care unit and felt distraught that he had come so far only to have the kidney not work.

Those early, agonizing difficulties, however, soon sorted themselves out and Deacon Moore admits finally claimed what he proudly declares as “a new lease on life.” He credits much of this to what he calls the “excellent” transplant team at his former employer, Fletcher Allen.

The story doesn’t end here however.

As tears well up in her eyes, Marie recounts the awe inspiring outpouring of love and kindness she and Dennis received from the community of Georgia where they have lived since 1972.

“The Georgia community is like family” she says. Church members from Ascension brought food and ultimately set up a “meal train,” which provided a constant supply of meals during the critical months following the transplant.

Neighbors drove Dennis to Fletcher Allen when he first began dialysis as Marie was still working.

Support rolled in from beyond the Georgia community. Dennis’ brother, who lives in Florida, spent an entire month at their home helping with doctor appointments, shopping and kept the house going.

A friend from Swanton checked in regularly, picking up medicines and doing house cleaning.

Marie’s co-workers stepped up and filled in for her while she learned to perform the home dialysis along with Dennis.

Last spring her co-workers were once again at the ready and performed a wonderful service when they arrived to do all the yard work — weeding, mulching, and even cleaning the swimming pool. Through the entire experience church members have been there for their Deacon and his wife, they said.

Marie shared her astonishment with the fact that church members began visiting her mother who is in an assisted living facility in the Burlington area. These people from Ascension parish decided to fill in for Marie and pay visits to her mother because they knew her priority and focus had to be Dennis.

Today these same kind people still visit Marie’s mom and consider her a friend.

Since the transplant surgery in February 2014, Dennis is now able to take walks and is “getting out more.” He has learned “the healing process takes time.” He paces himself and realizes when it is best to do less and rest more.

Asked why they felt it was important to share their story Dennis says, “We hear so many negative things … the media often focuses on the bad things.

“Everyone is capable of kindness, they just need an opportunity to express it.”

Deacon Moore acknowledges that prayers and support helped him heal. “I would receive a card from someone and it would brighten my day,” he adds.

Marie echoes her husband’s sentiments. “There is good in every person,” she says. “We have always been the doers … we had to learn to be receivers.”

At first this role reversal was uncomfortable for the Moores, but they say they soon learned that those who spread kindness cannot keep it from themselves. When doers become receivers and receivers become doers the circle is complete and everyone is better for it.