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URMC / Strong Memorial Hospital / Friends of Strong / The Best of Friends Blog / April 2016 / Friends of Strong Volunteers Create Countless Smiles

Friends of Strong Volunteers Create Countless Smiles

Impactful contributions throughout UR Medicine’s Strong Hospital aren’t always about dollars and cents; they’re about hearts and minds. Sporting their maroon smocks or blue polo shirts, men and women spanning various generations attend to the needs of our patients and their families each and every day—all as part of the Friends of Strong Volunteer program.

Friends of Strong volunteers enhance patient- and family-centered care (PFCC) initiatives in a variety of ways. At any given time, there are approximately 500 to 600 volunteers actively cycling through Friends of Strong’s ranks, providing a warm smile, courteous guidance, or a helping hand. Throughout 2015, more than 1,500 volunteers gave their time to help make others’ lives more happy and valued.

“We’re honored to have such a fabulous group of kind, devoted, giving individuals,” says Sandy Arbasak, director of Friends of Strong. “Our volunteers truly are Friends of Strong!”

“Our amazing volunteers give of themselves every day to make our patients’ experience here just a little more comfortable,” notes Joyce Stadtmiller, the Friends of Strong volunteer program manager.

None of the magic would be possible without the commitment of various departments, programs, and units across the Strong Hospital family who welcome our volunteers into the mix with open arms. These workgroups are our partners in providing enhanced healing care for our patients, families, and visitors year after year. “We’re especially thankful to all of our departments and offsite locations for making our volunteers feel welcome, and for making our volunteer program the success that it is,” Joyce adds.


That’s the total number of hours our volunteers gave just last year—with approximately 100 volunteers giving their compassion, care, and time to our patients and their families on any given day. And that’s not even including those who volunteer at satellite locations, like Strong West, where a growing number of volunteers regularly serve.

Marsha and Jack Clark, of Churchville, are life-long volunteers who continue fulfilling their commitment to community. Both are greeters at Strong West. While Jack helps care for ED patients, bringing them blankets, water, magazines, and other comfort items, Marsha is known for knitting blankets and hats for our patients.

Paul Sugar, of Holley, also volunteers at Strong West and is recipient of the 2015 Friends of Strong Dove Award, as well as four Strong Stars. “Paul welcomes our patients awaiting care in the ED and helps train all of our new volunteers,” remarks Jill Martin, an administrative assistant and volunteer coordinator at Strong West. “Paul is an outstanding volunteer who often comes in early, stays late, and always takes the initiative to support staff and is willing to help with any task asked of him—exemplifying the ICARE Values in his volunteer role.”

Saying Thanks

In an increased effort to celebrate and instill a sense of pride and civic service across the Nation, the White House has issued a Presidential Proclamation recognizing April 10 through April 16, 2016 as National Volunteer Week.

Next time you see a volunteer—escorting a patient, delivering flowers, assisting in our gift shop, or helping on units—remember to show our ICARE Values. Sandy asks us all to stop and say “thank you” for all they do to make the Strong experience ever better for those we serve. It’s these small gestures, in return, that provide a boost of encouragement for everyone to enrich our PFCC initiatives.

For more information on volunteer opportunities at Strong Memorial Hospital, please contact Friends of Strong at (585) 275-2420.

Volunteers originally began serving in the hospital’s Patient Library and Surgical Dressing Program in 1926, and the Department of Volunteer Services was established in 1946. In 1975, a small group of fundraising volunteers merged with the Department of Volunteer Services to form the Friends of Strong Memorial Hospital, which continues to serve our patients today. Learn more at

Matt Ulakovic | 4/11/2016

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