Salute to Volunteers
Aura Marina Galicia
Aura Marina Galicia has been a volunteer at Hialeah Hospital for more than eight years. She is described as an extremely dedicated volunteer by the members of the information technology department at Hialeah Hospital. Aura fulfills her commitments no matter what it takes. Her attention to detail is a big asset to the department at the hospital and she accomplishes whatever task she is assigned to. Over the past eight years as a volunteer, she has proven to be a very honest, trustworthy and loyal person. She is very flexible with her schedule and is committed to the hospital. Aura is very well-liked and respected by her peers. All of the members of the department she volunteers for constantly praises and recognizes her for her work. She looks forward to many more years of volunteering at Hialeah Hospital.
Margaret Herold has been volunteering at Hialeah Hospital for 25 years. She spends her day assisting in the mailroom and admitting patients at the front desk when necessary. What started off as a way to get out of the house and keep busy, turned into a much more valuable and rewarding experience. She loves interacting with all of the people she meets, both patients and hospital staff. The mailroom clerk for the hospital, Mary Chislom, speaks very highly of Margaret and refers to her not as a volunteer, but as her assistant. She is as reliable as they come and has never missed a day or even been late for a shift. In her spare time, Margaret enjoys staying in and watching old movies. She says that volunteering is a win-win situation; it allows her to help others while keeping her busy. Margaret recommends volunteering and says that Hialeah Hospital is one of the nicest places to volunteer at.
Alzheimer’s Association Southeast Florida Chapter
Nancy began volunteering for the Alzheimer’s Association Southeast Florida Chapter in 2012 as a Support Group Facilitator. After that, she began volunteering on the Helpline and running the Memory Cafe. Soon after that, she became an Advocate and was appointed as an Ambassador to Senator Marco Rubio.
Nancy made the decision to volunteer to help others, both caregivers and clients, with Alzheimer's disease to share her knowledge and to learn more on how to help those with the disease and those caring for those with the disease, as these unsung heroes are often the ones behind the scenes that so often go unrecognized.
Having been in health care for 25 years and having done home care for most of her career, Nancy has always had a soft spot for the elderly. She has seen Alzheimer's disease both professionally as well as personally. She loves helping people and finds it very rewarding working not only with the clients, but the families as well.
“It’s not what I can give to someone, it's what they give back to me. I guess you might say that I like to make a difference, and feel if I can make one family, or one patient feel special and that someone is listening and there for them it puts a smile on my face,” Nancy Ginden said.
Coral Gables Hospital
Dana Angelica Garcia
Wanting to be actively involved in her community, Dana Angelica Garcia decided that volunteering at Coral Gables Hospital would be a worthwhile use of her free time back in October 2013. She has gained clerical experience in various areas of the hospital such as administration, human resources and a few of the nursing units. Dana understands that volunteering is beneficial for others but also for her personal success; she not only grows professionally, but on an individual level as well. She believes that the employees at Coral Gables Hospital are all extremely helpful and caring, allowing her to feel comfortable and confident. When Dana isn’t busy volunteering at the hospital, she loves reading novels and going on long walks with her dogs. Dana recommends volunteering to others and says she is proud to help the patients and employees of Coral Gables Hospital.
Although Daniela Berdejo is a new volunteer at Coral Gables Hospital, she acclimated quickly and meshes well with the nursing staff. She volunteers in the outpatient department, working specifically at the nursing station filing papers and answering patient calls. Daniela appreciates the more intimate setting at Coral Gables Hospital and loves the camaraderie between the employees and volunteers. She is thrilled to be able to lend a helping hand while gaining experience working with the nurses. When Daniela isn’t volunteering at the hospital, she likes getting crafty, using ideas from social media sites as her inspiration. She also tries to go to the beach as frequently as possible and enjoys sun tanning. Daniela tells others who are interested in volunteering that it is a great way to gain experience in a hospital setting and every day truly is memorable.
Memorial Regional Hospital
Volunteerism is often a win-win for the volunteer and the cause receiving help. Kate Gray and Memorial Regional Hospital are a case in point.
Gray’s soft, soothing voice is a comfort to patients in the hospital’s Adult Emergency Room. She gently wishes patients well as she takes their vital signs during check-in and escorts them through the treatment process.
Physicians, nurses, technicians and others on the hospital’s emergency staff depend on her too for lessening their duties as they work swiftly to care for patients with serious, unexpected medical emergencies. She spends 15 hours a week at the hospital.
“I love volunteering and helping patients as well as people with their jobs,” Gray says. “It’s all about helping others, which is very rewarding. I don’t know what I would do with my time if I didn’t volunteer.”
VITAS Innovative Hospice Care of Miami-Dade/Monroe
For the past seven years as a VITAS volunteer, Alfred “Al” Sasiadek, 67, has visited patients in nursing homes and assisted social workers in providing support groups for grieving children at the Children's Bereavement Center (CBC).
"The best part about what I do is being able to talk and interact with kids, whose tragedies could be recent, and watch them gradually overcome their grief," said Sasiadek, a retired engineer. "Seeing them making friends and starting to feel happy is a reward in itself."
Cathy Agosti, VITAS Volunteer Services Manager, said that Sasiadek goes “above and beyond the call of duty. Oftentimes, he brings snacks and homemade cookies made by his wife to his patients.”
Sasiadek has been recognized with numerous awards, including: VITAS' Best Award (2013); the VITAS Outstanding Nursing Home Volunteer Award (2007); and the CBC’s Outstanding CBC Volunteer Award (2013).
Winifred Palmer Haye
Winifred Palmer Haye, 76, known affectionately by VITAS patients as "Winnie," is fulfilling her life's calling by caring for patients as a VITAS volunteer.
For the past decade after retiring from her 18-year nursing career, Haye has volunteered with VITAS twice a week, for more than four hours per day. She spends time with patients by talking or reading to them and one Sunday a month, stays with patients so their families can attend church.
"I love caring for patients," Haye said. "Providing respite care for families gives me joy. I understand that they are going through a rough time in their lives, so I always make myself available to patients and families in need, even if it means rescheduling my personal plans."
Added VITAS Volunteer Services Manager Cathy Agosti: “Our patients and families love Winnie. They anxiously await her visits. To them, she is a lifesaver."
Haye received VITAS' Best Award in 2013.
VITAS Innovative Hospice Care of Broward County
Beverly Rozynes, a retired healthcare professional with an associate's degree in healthcare management, joined VITAS 12 years ago as a volunteer.
Rozynes’ healthcare experience, which includes working in medical coding and billing and also helping manage a physician's private practice, immediately made her a distinct asset for VITAS' Broward program. She currently spends two days a week performing administrative tasks for the volunteer department such as licensing, data entry, and auditing, as well as managing VITAS' volunteer records.
Rozynes said she decided to become a hospice volunteer based on her experience observing the hospice care that was provided to her mother. "I was impressed by the quality care she received while being cared for by a local hospice," Rozynes said. "While there is no financial incentive for being a hospice volunteer, I find that giving back to the community is an extremely fulfilling, priceless reward.”
VITAS Volunteer Services Manager Daily Martinez said Rozynes is an important part of the VITAS Broward team. "Beverly is very efficient, focused and reliable. She completes every task given to her and contributed more than 500 hours of service in 2013."
Carmen Ranney was so impressed by the hospice care that VITAS provided to her husband at the end of his life that she decided to become a hospice volunteer. Ranney, who is retired, has volunteered at VITAS two or more hours per day, four days a week, during the past four years. Prior to retirement, she worked for Broward Health in Weston, Florida.
She visits patients in assisted living facilities or in private residences. She reads and talks to her patients, and when they’re up to it, she plays games like checkers with them.
"I get to meet families who are always so thankful for the time I spend with their loved ones," Ranney said. "They are thankful because they get a little break to do everyday chores while knowing that their loved ones are in good, caring hands."
VITAS Volunteer Services Manager Daily Martinez describes her as “very caring and affectionate.”
"Carmen has a wonderful serving heart and is always willing to go the extra mile to help our patients," Martinez said. "She cares not only about our patients but also their families and gives them that same love and affection."
In 2013, Ranney contributed more than 500 hours of service and was the recipient of VITAS' Best Award.
VITAS Innovative Hospice Care of Palm Beach
At 81 years of age, Eli Zifrony is still giving back to the community. Although he has been retired for two decades, he has made it a priority to continue to give back and make a difference.
Zifrony decided to become a hospice volunteer four years ago, after reading an article about VITAS. Since then, he has served as a patient care volunteer two days per week.
As a volunteer, he dedicates his time to care for patients and always makes sure they have an open line of communication to convey their needs. Before retiring, Zifrony worked in sales management.
He finds great reward in helping people at the end of life, he said.
"I have always been a people person," Zifrony said. "When I visit patients, I do my best to keep them comfortable and listen to whatever they want to share with me. Sometimes all people need is a listening ear."
VITAS Volunteer Services Manager Gayle Stevens, R.N., said the positive impacts of his contributions are evident. "Eli is extremely reliable, thoughtful and compassionate. I’ve seen firsthand how he works hard to make a difference when he spends time with patients.”
Clinics Can Help
Sherry Eastwood and Dr. Faustino Gonzalez
Whether it is a donation of time, money or expertise, two outstanding volunteers with Clinics Can Help, Palm Beach County’s only non-profit which receives and provides medical supplies for those in need, do what it takes to expand CCH’s programs and services within the community.
Sherry Eastwood sits on the Executive, Finance, Investment and Audit Committees for CCH, and has been instrumental in building relationships on behalf of the organization, as well as providing support for its many programs and outreach efforts. She is constantly out in the community, sharing the story of how Clinics Can Help reaches thousands of those in need through the donation of medical supplies and equipment. She is also instrumental in fundraising for CCH, and overseeing the fiscal management of the organization, to ensure the operations of its multiple programs.
Dr. Faustino Gonzalez may hold the title of Board Chair for CCH, but his involvement goes much deeper. At any time, he will be representing the organization through one of his many expert speaking engagements, using his decades of medical knowledge to explain the important services CCH provides for our community. Whether he is attending a fundraiser for Clinics Can Help, or even sweeping the floors of the warehouse – his passion and commitment for the organization has inspired others by his example.
Clinics Can Help is grateful for these outstanding volunteers, who set the example for others on selfless giving. Through their efforts, and those of CCH’s other volunteers and staff, the non-profit has able to assist over 1,400 clients by donating over $600,000 worth of recycled medical equipment.
Delray Medical Center
From the moment Anne Fennell steps foot inside Delray Medical Center, she transforms from an everyday woman into “Doc Figit,” a silly and rambunctious clown. Her white lab coat is adorned with goofy buttons and gadgets; everything from a name-tag claiming she is a “Funny Bone” specialist, to a stuffed teddy bear fastened to her “bare behind.” Originally from New Jersey, Anne brought what she learned as a clown in the northeast back to Florida and started the Caring Clown program at Delray Medical Center. Anne has been volunteering at the hospital for the past nine years and holds classes to train volunteers interested in becoming hospital clowns. On a typical day, “Doc Figit” and her clowns make their rounds through the hospital’s 493 licensed beds, handing out smiley face stickers and “nose transplants” (red clown noses) to those who look a little down. One memorable experience that sticks out in Anne’s mind is when a man stopped her to ask if she remembered him. He proceeded to pull out a photograph of “Doc Figit” and his mother who was wearing a clown nose and a huge smile across her face. The man explained that his mother passed away the day after the photo was taken and thanked Anne for making her smile one last time. As Anne likes to say, “We can’t change the diagnosis or the prognosis, but we can change the moment with a smile.”
Kathleen (Kay) Sanford
Kathleen Sanford, better known as Kay, has spent a fair share of her time at Delray Medical Center. She was one of the very first RNs to start working at the hospital upon its opening in 1982. Twenty-six years later, Kay was involved in a traumatic car accident and her own hospital’s Level I Trauma Center saved her life. She retired after her accident, and to show her appreciation, began volunteering in the Case Management/Utilization office. Kay’s volunteer work is personally gratifying to her because she gets to help people who are in similar situations as she was. Volunteering allows her to stay active, both physically and mentally; she is frequently moving around the hospital to assist the case managers. Since Kay previously worked in the field, she enjoys keeping up and learning about current practices and procedures. She appreciates the socialization aspect and has befriended several other volunteers whom she regularly interacts with outside of the hospital setting. When Kay’s not volunteering, she enjoys going out for dinner and a movie with her boyfriend, staying active by walking around the mall, and traveling the world on cruise ships. Kay highly recommends volunteering and says that it is a rewarding and fulfilling experience, not only for the patients, but for the volunteers as well.
Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center
For over three decades, Martha Duncan has been volunteering at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center. She has gained experience in several departments, ranging from being on the actual floors to assisting in the operating room. More recently, Martha has devoted her time to the hospital’s front lobby and helps ease patients through the discharge process. What better place for a passionate volunteer to be than in one of the area’s leading heart institutes? Martha appreciates her one-on-one contact with patients and loves meeting new people during her weekly four-hour long volunteer sessions. Outside of her time at the hospital, she enjoys cross stitching, playing computer card games and reading on her new kindle. Martha values spending time with her husband, two daughters and three grandchildren. Her grandson’s wedding is coming up, and she’s looking forward to attending. Martha recommends volunteering, and says that it is a great opportunity to help Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center and its patients.
As a psychotherapist, Micki Fickler spent most of her life helping others, so when she retired after a long career, she wanted to do something to make her life feel meaningful again. Her husband spent a few weeks in the ICU at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, and after he passed away, she decided to give back to the hospital that took such great care of him. As a volunteer, Micki wheels patients out who have been discharged. The hospital is very well-known for its cardiac care, so it is common for people to come into the emergency room with a heart problem. Many times they have a stent put in or some kind of heart procedure and Micki wheels them out a few days later. She said it’s rewarding to see patients feeling so much better and she knows they have been well taken care of. Outside of volunteering, she belongs to a widows group that she’s very passionate about, for people past the bereavement stage. Within the group, Micki runs a support group, and she enjoys being able to use her therapy skills to help people discuss intimate issues in their lives.
St. Mary’s Medical Center
Ivan and Roberta Ward
Ivan and Roberta Ward, a couple who have been married for 55 years in June, were originally drawn to each other by their compassionate and giving hearts. These very same qualities attracted them to volunteering at St. Mary’s Medical Center. They also serve on the hospital’s auxiliary board, which works to collect scholarship funds for student volunteers at the hospital. Roberta has been volunteering for the past 10 years with the Child Life Program at Palm Beach Children’s Hospital at St. Mary’s Medical Center. The program provides therapeutic support for children with acute and chronic medical conditions and their families during their hospital stay and throughout discharge. Roberta puts her creative talents to good use by making arts and crafts with the kids. One memorable moment that sticks out in her mind is when she was doing an art project with a child who was undergoing chemotherapy and had to miss a school field trip. The little girl told Roberta that it was okay because she was having such a wonderful time with her. Roberta loves interacting with the children and says, “If you can put a smile on their faces and help them forget about why they’re there, it makes it all worthwhile.” Ivan started volunteering at St. Mary’s five years ago in the emergency room, but currently helps out with administrative work in the volunteer office. Although the couple volunteers in separate departments at the hospital, Ivan often helps with his wife’s activities, recently assisting her with making capes for a Child Life superhero carnival event. Volunteering together helps keep their relationship going strong! Ivan says that no amount of money can compare to the satisfaction he gets from helping hands-on with the patients and other volunteers. “Seeing their appreciation and joy is very rewarding.”
Broward Health Medical Center
As a volunteer at the Broward Health Medical Center (BHMC) Auxiliary gift shop. 86 year old Norma Waters have shared smiles with the patients, staff and physicians at BHMC for over 30 years. Norma began volunteering after her husband passed away, a friend suggested that Norma join her as a volunteer at the hospital. She found a position delivering flowers to patients, and the role suited her. Over time, her job shifted to the gift shop, where she works today, warmly greeting each visitor. “I love my fellow volunteers, the Auxiliary, and the staff,” Norma says. “I meet all kinds of interesting people.” Originally from Nova Scotia, Canada, Norma first came to South Florida as a young girl with her family. When she is not volunteering at BHMC, Norma enjoys reading and spending time with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Rozen Patterson, a retired high school principal, began volunteering at Broward Health Medical Center (BHMC) in 2006. She has worked throughout the hospital – in the waiting rooms of the ICU, ER, Women’s Center and outpatient rehab, and in the gift shop – where her kind, friendly presence always puts patients and their family members at ease. Rozen came to BHMC as a patient, and was impressed by the wonderful staff and physicians. She has found the volunteer staff to be exceptionally dedicated and caring. She served as volunteer president in 2011 and 2012, and was recently elected to serve again in 2014. She is always willing help others, doing whatever needs to be done in a compassionate manner. “All you need is just a moment with someone, to listen to them, and that can help people get through a tough experience,” says Rozen.
Florida Medical Center
When Janette Reid joined the volunteer team at Florida Medical Center last year, it was clear her skills would make her a big help to any department office she was assigned to. Janette works for the hospital’s Comprehensive Stroke Program and has demonstrated her commitment, resourcefulness and dedication. Her responsibilities include filing, keeping the office organized and preparing educational packets. Stroke Coordinator, Janice Montes, described Janette as a pleasure to have and said the stroke team is very grateful for her assistance. She added that Janette is reliable, consistently positive in her outlook and maintains a sense of pride and ownership in her work.
Marsha Plezia has been a volunteer at Florida Medical Center, a campus of North Shore since last year. She has spent most of her time working with the Case Management Office. Her goal is to become a medical records coder, and she is currently taking a coding class for ICD-10. Volunteering in the Case Management Office provides Marsha with the experience and learning environment to help her reach her goal. Each day, Marsha is responsible for checking the hospital census and verifying that the “Important Message from Medicare Notice,” a requirement by Medicare, has been given to the appropriate patients. She collates the discharge logs and documents the new placements to skilled nursing facilities. Marsha assists the director of case management with physician certifications forms. She also provides a number of other secretarial duties for the director and her administrative assistant, Shirley Cirone, who said Marsha is a very valuable asset to the department.
Hospice by the Sea
John Knox Village Care Center
Phil Orso has lived a fulfilling life, both in the United States and in Europe. He juggled serving as CEO of a hi-tech company with being the primary caregiver for his ailing mother. After retiring, he voluntarily spent time in Central America assuring that the poorest residents in remote jungle areas received medical and dental care. He brings this gusto for life to everything he does today as a Hospice by the Sea volunteer in the care center and patient homes at John Knox Village. Phil became critically aware of the vulnerability created by a terminal illness while witnessing his mother’s decline. He saw how much she appreciated what anyone did for her. Now, every day Phil reaches out to patients facing their greatest challenge – the end of their life. Phil offers comfort with his voice, his touch, his smile or just with his presence. They know he is there for them and that truly has become Phil’s greatest reward.
For the past two years, Roshanda Paige has devoted her time to improving the quality of life for Hospice by the Sea patients and families in Broward County. For caregivers, she steps in and alleviates them of their responsibilities for a few hours. For patients, she will take them outside, have meaningful conversations with them or she will just hold their hand. Roshanda believes it’s important to do whatever you can for a patient who is facing the end of their life, yet still want to feel whole. She finds volunteering at hospice to be extremely fulfilling. Roshanda was in the Army and served 6 1/2 years as a Finance Specialist in Fort Riley, KS, Orlando, FL and Saudi Arabia. Currently, she works for the Broward County Aviation Department in a similar capacity. Hospice by the Sea reached out to Roshanda while at a Broward County Health Fair. The concept of volunteering to help hospice patients inspired her and touched her heart. Today, she feels this is something she was always meant to do.
Memorial Regional Hospital South
“As long as I am still walking, talking and lucid, I plan to volunteer.”
So says Irene Devin, who at 90, is a mainstay within Memorial Healthcare System. A volunteer for 15 years, she currently works on Wednesdays in the gift shop at Memorial Regional Hospital South and on Fridays in Outpatient Surgery, where she is an information source and helps patients’ friends and family feel comfortable.
“I volunteer for sociability,” Devin says. “I like to talk to people, and the staff is absolutely wonderful!”
Devin has always been a people person. She had a lifelong career in the recreation departments in Hollywood and North Miami Beach, including the position of superintendent.
“I had a very exciting career, which is why I still have a need to socialize and be useful,” she says. “The hospital does as much for me as I do for the hospital. And along the way, I have become friends with many of the volunteers.”
Joe Kahane is a story of superlatives. At 93, he has recorded 18 years of volunteer service at Memorial Regional Hospital South. Kahane mans the hospital’s Information Desk every business day from 6:30 – 11 am. His responsibilities include greeting visitors, answering phones and transferring calls to patient rooms.
“I love to be with people, and I feel appreciated,” Kahane says. “The hospital work is my hobby.”
Kahane is no stranger to serving people’s needs. He and his wife of 63 years were owners of an oceanfront 60-room hotel in South Beach. Before retiring, he was in charge of transportation at a sewing accessories business.
“When the business closed, I went to the hospital the very next day to find out how I could help out,” says Kahane, who drives himself to and from Memorial Regional Hospital South. “I don’t like to be idle, even at 93.”
Palmetto General Hospital
After Elsa Bacigalupi’s husband passed away, she decided to take a friend’s advice and volunteer at Palmetto General Hospital. Now 90 years old, she has been a volunteer in the mail room department for 13 years, and works over 6 hours each day. The family environment and positive attitude of the employees she works with allows her to truly enjoy what she does. Many years ago, Elsa used to work at a factory before her husband came over from Cuba. She said working at the factory and volunteering at the hospital are similar in that everyone gets along and helps each other attain their goals. One of her most memorable experiences was receiving an honor of recognition for her contributions at Palmetto General Hospital. Elsa believes that volunteering has made a positive impact on her mental and physical health. She said, “At 90 years old, it is great to feel that I can help others and benefit myself as well.”
Milton Vivanco has always had a desire to help people, and Palmetto General Hospital gave him the opportunity to do just that. He considers the hospital to be his second home, and the employees he works with, his second family. Milton volunteers in the admitting department and has been doing so for over 7 years for six hours each day. Volunteering keeps him active and gives him a sense of purpose. He says that at Palmetto General Hospital, everyone treats him with respect and makes him feel important and needed. His experiences have helped develop him into an independent individual who is able to be more open with others. Milton’s most memorable moments at the hospital have been during the annual dinner dance where he has the chance to interact with all levels of staff. Aside from volunteering, Milton enjoys reading, watching movies and spending time with his loved ones.
West Palm Beach VA Medical Center
Mildred Kandell, better known as “Millie”, demonstrates so much energy, enthusiasm and dependability and is proud to tell you that she is 89 years young. Millie has been volunteering at the West Palm Beach VA for 19 years, one of the original volunteers to begin her assignment when the VA Medical Center opened in 1995. During these 19 years, Mille has volunteered over 6,000 hours in the Voluntary Service office. You will find her answering phones, accepting donations, providing applications to customers and assisting in preparing appreciation letters to the numerous folks who support our Veterans. Ms. Kandell always has a smile on her face and is eager to provide great customer service. She is a wonderful asset to a very active service. We are ever so grateful that she continues to volunteer.
“Our Ray of Sunshine” is how Vincent D’Aquino is described. The staff in the Director’s Office of West Palm Beach VA Medical Center looks forward to seeing him as he brings his positive attitude and greets everyone that walks through the front door as an old friend.
Vincent assists in the Patient Advocate’s Office. Besides providing customer service support, he helps with “Clean Sweep Week” (a quarterly opportunity for staff to review their space for excess equipment and supplies and identify repair and cleaning projects), and serves as a greeter for large meetings. His most important role is providing a compassionate ear to his fellow Veterans.
As a valued volunteer and a member of the Director’s Office Team, Vincent has been with the Department of Veterans Affairs for three years and has provided over 1000 hours of service to the medical center.
West Boca Medical Center
Belle Afrane has dedicated her time to the patients and staff at West Boca Medical Center since the hospital opened its doors over 25 years ago. She comes in at least once a week wearing her pink volunteer shirt, distinguishing her from the newer volunteers dressed in blue. Belle helps out in any way she can by getting water for patients and making sure the supply room is stocked for the nurses. When she was younger, Belle was quite the athlete; she was on the swim team and played tennis. Although she isn’t able to do those things anymore, she still stays active by walking every day. Belle also enjoys spending time with her huge family including her four children, 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She finds her time at West Boca Medical Center to be very rewarding and hopes that others will decide to make volunteering a part of their lives.
Instead of spending his free time watching television or relaxing, Gangula Reddy would much rather spend those three to four hours of time doing something more meaningful to him. A pharmacist by trade, Gangula began volunteering at West Boca Medical Center in 2011 as a “friendly visitor.” He stops by each of the 70 beds on two floors of the hospital helping patients with any of their non-medical needs. Other times, he offers an open ear for those who may be hospitalized away from family and friends; basically his job is to make everyone feel comfortable and at ease. Gangula lives by the teachings of an Indian guru who always said, “Love all and serve all,” and he says that this mantra is what inspired him to start volunteering at West Boca Medical Center. His experiences at the hospital have allowed him to grow as an individual. One of the most important lessons he has learned is to respect all people and to treat them the same regardless of their current condition or situation. Gangula encourages others to volunteer and says that everyone can help in their own way.
Miami VA Healthcare System
Joe Motes, a longtime volunteer at the William “Bill” Kling VA Clinic, is a Marine Corps Vietnam Veteran and Broward County Veteran of the Year award winner for his continued service as a volunteer. His most recent project is selling Veteran and military related merchandise, which is raising more than $1,500 a month for Veterans causes in South Florida.
He is also a member of the Miami VA Healthcare System Voluntary Service committee and Veterans Advisory Board, which helps bring a Veterans voice to decisions made at their local VA facilities. He is a member of the American Legion, serving as Vice Commander for the Legion’s 9th District and also serves as Vice Commandant of the Marine Corps League’s Tamarac Detachment, and is active with the Vietnam Veterans of America.
Despite his recognition and continued hard work serving his fellow service members, Joe remains humble through it all, claiming he’s “just really glad to be able to volunteer and help our Veterans.”
Thomas O’Brien has been a Volunteer at the Bruce W. Carter VA Medical Center for 11 years, spending most of that time spreading cheer throughout the hospital by delivering magazines and books to those who could use a worthwhile distraction.
He was born in New York City and graduated from New Rochelle High School, where he played on the football team. He continued his education at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana and joined the U.S. Navy Reserve as a pilot.
Following his naval career, Thomas became a stockbroker; a career path that took him to live in many places around the United States, including New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Florida.
Thomas is a sports fan, his favorite football teams are Notre Dame University and the Miami Dolphins. His favorite baseball team is the St. Louis Cardinals. Thomas enjoys talking about sports with Veterans around the hospital and has a good memory for memorable games and players.
Martin Health System
This month, Terry Kish-Skidmore of Stuart will be voted in as the new president of the Martin Health Auxiliary. A Martin Health volunteer for the past five years, Terry has been primarily devoting her time to pastoral care – visiting patients and supporting their various religious and spiritual beliefs.
Terry has spent recent months visiting the many Martin Health sites throughout Martin and St. Lucie counties and getting to know some of the volunteers within the system. As president, her vision is to help continue to create a happy and positive environment where volunteers enjoy giving back to the community.
“Our volunteers are so important to this organization,” she said. “They are often the first people our patients and visitors meet when they come through the door. If the volunteers are happy, the impression they give will be a positive one.”
Volunteerism has been a life-long commitment for Terry. “You get so much more back than what you give,” she said. “Volunteering teaches you about people and gives you a different view of the world. It teaches you compassion.”
Clarence and Edna Klopp
While Clarence and Edna Klopp (known by family and friends as Butch and Bets) have traveled much of the world in the 70 years they have been together, they chose to make Stuart, Florida their home for the past 21 years. At the ages of 92 and 90 respectively, Butch and Bets are 20-year veterans of the Martin Health System Auxiliary. They both volunteer in different capacities at Martin Hospital South; together they have donated 11,300 hours of volunteer service.
They say it’s the “people” who keep them coming back.
“I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile,” Butch said. “Everyone appreciates you so much.”
Butch helps out in the emergency department and in mail services eight hours a week while Bets volunteers at the front desk greeting visitors and answering phones four hours a week.
As former members of the armed services – Butch was a Marine and Bets a Navy WAVE – the couple said they have never been ones to be idle.
“I look forward to coming every week,” Bets said. “If this opportunity didn’t exist for us, I’d be volunteering in some other capacity.”
Holy Cross Hospital
A Holy Cross Hospital volunteer since April 2011, Dennis Charlton serves in the outpatient endoscopy department twice a week. His responsibilities include assisting patients and transporting them to and from their procedures, sanitizing patient beds after procedures are completed, replenishing supplies, and running errands for hospital staff, including visiting the hospital's mailroom, pharmacy and other hospital departments. His volunteer assignment is one that takes dedication, time and stamina. Knowing his job is important and worthwhile, Dennis always works without complaint and with a smile. His motto is, “Someone has to do it; why not me?” In his three years volunteering at Holy Cross, Dennis has served almost 2,000 hours for the hospital.
Kelly Murray joined the Holy Cross Hospital volunteer program in October 2009 to pursue her lifelong interest in nursing. Twice a week, she assists nurses in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) with clerical work such as answering phones, filing, stocking supplies, assisting with patient charts, and other tasks as needed. Dedicated and dependable, Kelly’s calm and reassuring demeanor is a great comfort and support to nursing staff and families who have babies in the NICU. Happy to assist with special events and projects, Kelly recently helped the NICU's staff move into the hospital's newly renovated maternity unit. Kelly says, "I find volunteering to be very fulfilling thanks in large part to the hospital's fabulous doctors and nurses." In 2013, Kelly received an honorary award from Holy Cross recognizing her achievement of having served more than 1,000 hours for the hospital.
Hospice of Broward County
When Sharon Christman’s grandmother fell ill in New York, she was so grateful for the volunteer who visited her every day that she decided to pay it forward. As a volunteer for Hospice of Broward County (HOBC), Sharon visits patients in assisted living facilities and nursing homes. She takes great pride in being there for patients and families especially when they are unable to do it themselves. In the two years she’s been with HOBC, there have been numerous daughters and sons who have thanked for being there when they couldn’t. As she’s continued volunteering, Sharon has discovered many more joys as well. Her favorite part of the day is the moment when she walks into a room and is greeted by the warm smiles of the patients she visits. Reliving the memories and rejoicing in their lives is what she feels makes patient visiting so special. What started as a simple need to give back has grown into a true commitment to enhancing the lives of patients and families.
Hospice of Palm Beach County
After witnessing the care her sister-in-law received from hospice, Marie Carollo knew she wanted to help. As a patient visitor volunteer in the Hospice of Palm Beach County Delray Beach Medical Center inpatient unit, Marie is willing to assist patients and families any way she can. She will set up rooms for patients, engage in conversation with patients, comfort families, or assure there is fresh coffee ready in the family room in the inpatient unit - she does it all. Through her own experiences, she has a lot of compassion for the families she works with. Helping them celebrate their loved ones is what makes the experience so rewarding.
Marie also helps people in the community get the support they need. When she isn’t volunteering in the inpatient unit, she volunteers as the receptionist for the bereavement department, directing people who want counseling to the resources available. She finds great satisfaction knowing that she’s helped patients and families through a very difficult time.
Joan Samitt has been volunteering for hospice for more than 13 years. She started her volunteer career in Pennsylvania where her husband sat on the board of their local hospice and encouraged her to get involved. She fell in love with it, finding immense gratification in helping families at the most difficult time in their lives.
When she started spending her winters in Florida seven years ago, she wanted to find an organization to donate her time to. After considering other organizations, she chose to stick with hospice care. The work she had done captured her heart. She decided to volunteer with Hospice of Palm Beach County through a recommendation from a volunteer coordinator at the hospice in her home state.
Hospice has given Joan the opportunity to meet different people from all walks of life, interact with families and be there for patients who sometimes have no family. Her volunteer work allows her to step outside of herself and she feels as though she is contributing to the entire community.
Broward Health North
Megan Alfieri, 21, started volunteering at Broward Health North in August 2013 so that she could experience firsthand the nursing lifestyle.
When Megan was eight years old, her mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, soon after, with breast cancer and most recently, she has been diagnosed with treatment-related leukemia.
Through her mother’s ups and downs with her treatments over the years, she often talked about the friendships and interactions with the many nurses she has met. This helped spark Megan’s interest in taking care of patients at the hospital.
Since Megan started volunteering, she has helped in the laboratory, emergency department and neuro/telemetry unit.
Megan hopes to start nursing school in the Fall of 2014 at her dream school – Florida International University in Miami.
Her favorite aspect of volunteering is interacting with patients and being able to watch nurses provide high quality patient care.
Josephine D’ Espies
Josephine “Jo” D’Espies has worked at the Broward Health North Auxiliary since 1990, serving as president for the last six years.
She manages and supports more than 130 active hardworking volunteer members who, in just one year, provided 36,215 volunteer hours helping run the hospital gift shop, preparing patient guest handbook bags, transporting patients and much more.
This past year the auxiliary was able to donate more than $13,000 in scholarships to students seeking a career in healthcare.
In June 2013, she was inducted into the Dr. Nan S. Hutchison Broward Senior Hall of Fame for excellence in the volunteer sector of Broward County.
Her favorite part of the job is staying busy and actively looking for new volunteers to join the auxiliary family.
North Shore Medical Center
Gloria Green, an energetic, retired Miami-Dade County elementary school teacher, has dedicated 29 years of her time to the food service department at North Shore Medical Center. Most of her day consists of assisting the catering staff with preparing meals for patients. Gloria said volunteering is very rewarding for her on a personal level, and she feels a sense of pride in what she does. She is appreciative of the recognition she has received at the hospital throughout the years. When she is not volunteering, you can find Gloria visiting patients at North Shore as well as at other hospitals. She is very active in her church and enjoys singing, taking photos, traveling and watching her favorite soap opera. Gloria feels that she and all of the other volunteers at North Shore Medical Center are valued by both patients and staff. She encourages anyone who is considering volunteering to go for it. According to Gloria, “what you give, you get.”
Good Samaritan Medical Center
Carlos Alvarez is a very diligent and loyal volunteer. For the past three years, he has dedicated his time to Good Samaritan Medical Center six days a week for up to five hours each day. He volunteers in the food services department delivering food and socializing with the patients in each of the hospital’s 333 beds. Situated right across the street from the crystal clear waters of the Intracoastal Waterway, Carlos says that he enjoys volunteering at Good Samaritan because of the beautiful atmosphere. His favorite part of going to the hospital is getting to know patients, employees and other volunteers on a more personal level, and he has made many friends! Along with the socialization aspect, volunteering has taught him to follow directions more efficiently and collaborate with all different types of people. On his day off, Carlos loves to clean, go running and spend time at the park.
After a career as a banker for 40 years, Doris Ulacia needed a change of scenery. She spoke with a close friend who worked at Good Samaritan Medical Center and realized that volunteering could be exactly what she needed. Friendly and outgoing with a desire to help others, the opportunity gave Doris the community interaction she enjoyed so much. For the past five years, she has volunteered at the front desk of Good Samaritan’s Diagnostic Center, a state of the art facility that offers a wide range of tests and radiological procedures. She also serves as the treasurer of the Good Samaritan Medical Center auxiliary board of directors. Doris finds that by sympathizing with patients’ current medical situations, along with showing empathy, she can help them feel more comfortable. It also allows them to take their minds off of their conditions. Doris believes that courtesy and kindness can go a long way! She spends her free time expressing her creative side by painting and making jewelry with friends she met while volunteering. Although her forte is oil painting, she recently delved into the world of acrylic painting. Doris says that volunteering is a self-gratifying experience and offers a word of advice to anyone interested in a having successful experience, “You need to find your niche and feel comfortable in it. It’s very important that you enjoy what you’re doing when you volunteer.”
Memorial Hospital Miramar
Ten years ago, a Memorial Healthcare System hospital helped Roger Mejia recover from a long-term health issue. Now he is giving back in a big way by volunteering 40-plus hours weekly at Memorial Hospital Miramar.
Mejia, who is bilingual, works at the hospital’s Security Desk, where he helps direct visitors to their destinations and issues security passes. He also makes deliveries for the Central Supply department.
“Volunteering is an opportunity for me to help the community,” says Mejia, a man of deep religious faith. “A lot of people are anxious about coming to the hospital. I try to help them relax by carefully directing them where they need to go. It is very gratifying work, and I love it.”
The staff is very appreciative of Mejia’s dedicated work. In fact, he received the hospital’s Lifesaver Award for his extraordinary work in helping a patient who accidently locked her baby in her car in the Florida heat.
Memorial Hospital West
Instead of steering trains for the New York City Transit Authority, Dominick Yodice is now steering gurneys throughout Memorial Hospital West.
Actually that is just one of many tasks performed by this Johnny-on-the-spot, who fills his retirement life in the Florida sunshine by volunteering three to five days a week on the 5th floor orthopedic wing and in the cafeteria.
“I came down to Florida for the warm weather,” Yodice says, “If it’s not raining, I’m usually working at the hospital. The staff tells me I am a big help and that makes me feel valuable. I love the work and helping people.”
His days usually start out on the 5th floor where he goes after supplies, does paperwork, grabs a meal for a patient following surgery and much more. At noon, you’ll find Yodice in the cafeteria serving lunch to the hospital staff and guests, and then returns to his floor.
Forty service hours are required for students to graduate from high school in Miami-Dade County. As a sophomore, Devika Mansaram is already far above the requirement by volunteering at Memorial Hospital West.
On any Monday evening, you’ll find the bubbly 16-year-old behind the hospital’s Admissions Desk, where she answers phones, greets visitors, hands out passes and assists with patient discharges.
“I would like to be a physician someday, so the hospital is a great learning environment for me,” Mansaram says. “It’s a complete pleasure to volunteer here. I feel like these people are part of my family.”
Mansaram has a 4.3 grade point average and feels strongly about donating time and energy to benefit people when she is not busy with schoolwork.
“A hospital may not be the happiest place for a lot of people,” she says. “I try to promote a positive environment. Just smiling at someone can make all the difference.
Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital
Rosalie Watts’ resume is impressive. She ran a district office for a Florida senator, was vice president of a large public relations firm and served as the first female political consultant for a law enforcement organization.
Now this take-charge woman has another important position. She is a “cuddler” in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital – earning her the title of March 2014 Volunteer of the Month.
“My role is incredibly rewarding. I feel like I should be paying the hospital for the work I do!”
Watts cuddles babies and toddlers who are waiting for hearts, are incubated or are in other critical-care situations.
“I rock the children, sing to them and touch their little faces and heads,” says Watts, who takes fitness classes on her off days so that she is agile enough for floor playtime. “Parents can’t always be at the hospital, so I make the children feel loved.”