VNA Volunteers: A Work of Heart is this year’s national theme of gratitude for volunteers throughout the country and it is the sentiment that filled St. Paul’s Catholic Church on the Saturday morning of September 26th. VNA staff hosted over a hundred volunteers throughout their association and Meals on Wheels, for an appreciation breakfast and an awards ceremony.
Some of the VNA volunteers have logged over a hundred hours, a few have even surpassed the four-hundred hour mark. Volunteer Arlene Lynch used to be the Coordinator for Meals on Wheels, and returned to help out after she retired.
“I love the program,” Lynch said. “When I was the coordinator, I loved the people, the volunteers and the people we served. As a volunteer now I still get to interact with those people.”
Betty Soderstrom of Portage donated her time once a week for 23 years.
“I love all the people, the clients. I look forward to the visits.”
The Meals on Wheels Support Supervisor, Michele Murphy Wise, said that “as an agency, we could not offer the services we do without volunteers.”
Meals on Wheels deliver meals to over 180 people, Monday through Friday, every week. The long term goal is to be able to provide frozen dinners for the weekends.
Rudelle Crowley, Volunteer Coordinator for the VNA, has been working for the organization for over 14 years. She organized today’s event and personally handed out each VNA volunteer award.
“I love what I do,” added Crowley. “I work with the best people ever. This is our chance to give back to our volunteers. They never ask for thanks or praise.”
She and the rest of her staff thought of everything. A delicious breakfast of breakfast casserole, muffins, and fruit salad was provided buffet style. Each place setting had a program with the award winning volunteers on it, and a party favor to thank each guest.
According to VNA CEO and interim President Joyce Alexa, “two of our biggest programs are Meals on Wheels and the Hospice Program. Today we bring both our groups together.”
The VNA volunteer appreciation breakfast was about giving thanks to every person who has helped out. From the cookie bakers to the clerical workers, every role is vital. The staff wants them to know that. They even sang it to them: each staff member stood to sing a parody they wrote to “Love Me Tender” by Elvis Presley.
“It’s really affirming to the program that we have so many people who want to help out,” said hospice nurse Kathy Markwart, who has been with the VNA since 1988.
Her friend and co worker, Tracy Hughes, agrees.
“The volunteers are priceless. We could not function without them.”