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URMC / Strong Memorial Hospital / Friends of Strong / The Best of Friends Blog / November 2017 / Giving Thanks: Learn How Several Notable Volunteers Make Life Better at SMH

Giving Thanks: Learn How Several Notable Volunteers Make Life Better at SMH

Friends of Strong Transplant volunteers gather before the awards luncheon.

Friends of Strong (FOS), the hospital’s volunteer organization, recently recognized the dedication and service of seven volunteers, and paid tribute to the 1,300 volunteers who collectively gave about 141,000 hours of their time during the past year serving our patients, families and guests throughout Strong Memorial Hospital and a number of our off-site locations.

Each day, they provide meaningful services that enhance patient- and family-centered care, such as providing patient transportation, delivering flowers, providing a friendly smile and raising funds through special events that further support our patients.

“While every day we appreciate the incredible gifts all of our volunteers bring us, once a year we take a moment to reflect on the very best and most notable among them.” says Sandy Arbasak, director of Friends of Strong. “Nominated by those who know them best—their fellow volunteers and site coordinators—we owe our congratulations and thanks to these exceptional people. They truly exude the utmost commitment to our community.”

Transplant Volunteers

Each year, FOS also recognizes a volunteer group for its meaningful service. This year, SMH’s Transplant volunteers are being recognized for their commitment to providing encouragement and support to fellow transplant patients throughout the entire treatment process. What makes this group especially noteworthy is that they’re all transplant recipients themselves, and are uniquely able to provide comfort to our transplant patients. Pictured Above: Larry Billings, Bob Brahaney, Karen Gledhill, Richard Perez and Larry Rosner.


Mary Cellura

Friends of Strong volunteer, Mary CelluraRecipient of this year’s Hettie Shumway Role Model Award, which is given to a volunteer who provides significant and unfailing service, is an effective role model for other volunteers and demonstrates loyalty to the hospital; Mary has volunteered with pediatric Child Life for more than 20 years and currently oversees the Pirate Toy program at GCH. Mary’s self-stated goal is to bring a smile to each child's face when she enters their room with a toy selected just for them. Her care, compassion and commitment to our pediatric patients are exemplary.



Leonard (Bud) Wesley, Jr.

Friends of Strong volunteer Bud WesleyBud is this year’s recipient of the Elizabeth Crozier Long-Term Service Award. Bud has been a fixture with the FOS volunteer program for 21 years and counting! He volunteers in both patient discharge and the intensive care family waiting rooms, where he’s always willing to lend a friendly ear, warm smile, and a cup of coffee or refreshment to families in crisis. “It is a wonderful blessing to be able to help families through difficult times,” Bud says.



Laurie Hambleton

Friends of Strong volunteer Laurie HambletonHaving volunteered in our highly sought-after NICU program for the past ten years, Laurie is this year’s Dove Award recipient. Her kind, compassionate nature and selfless commitment to going above and beyond for our most delicate patients—combined with her skills at baking mouthwatering cookies and treats for NICU staff —exemplify recipients of the Dove award. She lives the ICARE values every day, in every way, and is cherished by those she encounters while serving.



Jane Belling

Friends of Strong volunteer Jane BellingIn recognition of the highest and most consistent level of volunteer service and dedication to patient- and family–centered care, Jane is this year’s recipient of the Louise Criticos Award. As a retired nurse, she is acutely aware of the stress that can accompany an unexpected trip to the hospital, and faithfully volunteers in Strong’s Emergency Department waiting room every Monday afternoon, where she provides a warm smile and a caring ear to patients and families.



Hazel Pugh

Friends of Strong volunteer supervisor Hazel PughAs the recipient of this year’s Frances Brownell Volunteer Supervisor Award, Hazel shows exceptional care in training, recognizing and including volunteers as a member of our “team.” New to supervising volunteers, Hazel has already captured the hearts of volunteers at Wilmot Cancer Center with her infectious smile and welcoming personality—she always makes her volunteers feel valued and appreciated.



Jiayu (Kate) Tian

Friends of Strong volunteer Kate TianRespected for her exceptional commitment to volunteering while also studying microbiology as a full time University of Rochester student, Kate began volunteering in Patient Discharge in September of 2015. Today she is described by her peers as enthusiastic and energetic—with a positive attitude that’s contagious.



Gauri Misra

Friends of Strong volunteer Gauri MisraThe Evening/Weekend Award is given to an individual who volunteers in the evening or on weekends and performs outstanding service. This year’s recipient is Guari Misra, who currently studies cell and molecular biology at Cornell University, yet faithfully reserves three hours of her weekend to assist families and visitors in Strong’s ED. She’s especially great with children, giving them stickers and helping put them at ease.




Are you interested in becoming a Friends of Strong volunteer? Learn how you can join our team at

Matt Ulakovic | 11/22/2017

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