What does it take to be a volunteer?
These hard-working, selfless, take-nothing-in-return but a smile volunteers are the people we are honoring this month during the National Volunteer Month. At the Life Care Centers of the Willows in Valparaiso, the volunteers work hard to bring a smile to the faces of the residents, becoming not just a friendly helper, but a part of the family.
On Wednesday, the staff of the center honored their volunteers with a Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon, catered to the facility by Pesto’s Italian Restaurant.
This is an annual event to just sit down and show the many volunteers – some who have been helping for years – how much they mean to the staff and residents.
Jessica Eldred, Activities Assistant, said they have about 25 active volunteers helping at the facility, which is “a lot of hands.”
“Every year we have a luncheon to honor and give thanks back to our volunteers who give time and hep out with residents and activities,” Eldred said.
The volunteers come for various reasons. Some deliver religious worship sessions, some help at mealtimes, others come in and help manage big events, and others just come in to help keep the residents in a good mood throughout the day. The volunteers are past employees, people from the community, and friends and family of the residents, Eldred said.
At the beginning of the meal, Tami Adams, Executive Director of the Center, thanked everyone for coming to the facility and volunteer David D. Wilgus delivered the blessing. Wilgus is a pastor who has been volunteering at the Life Care Center once a week for about seven years.
Karen Greenburg, along with her friend, Carolyn Manual, are volunteers from the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They have been volunteering at the center for about two years, coming every Wednesday to read and discuss stories from the Bible.
“We are covering stories from the Bible and right now we are on the stories of Jesus,” Greenburg said. “The little group we have right now is great. They are older, and all are familiar with the stories, so we can talk and ask questions. It is refreshing.”
Volunteers Febe and Phil Byers also enjoy discussing religion with the residents. The Byers have been volunteering at the center as part of the Christian Church of La Crosse, which has been stopping in Valpo for the last 25 years.
According to Febe, the church leaders conduct a service, they all sing hymns and songs, and then discuss the readings with the residents.
“Sometimes we bring our choir and high school girls to sing,” Febe said. “At times, you think the residents are asleep or not paying attention and then you ask a question and they are ready with an answer!”
As a premier nursing home in Valparaiso, the Life Care Center of The Willows focuses on inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation with 24-hour nursing care. They specialize in physical, occupational, and speech therapy, offering patients the able to receive a wide range of help for as long as needed. The center is a small community, complete with amenities such as a beauty salon and barber shop, a garden, and religious services.
Volunteers are the behind-the-scenes helpers making sure things go smoothly for the staff and residents. Though they aide tirelessly all year, it is nice to stop and remember to say “Thank You.”
To learn more about the Life Care Center of The Willows, click here.