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URMC / Strong Memorial Hospital / Friends of Strong / The Best of Friends Blog / October 2018 / Volunteers Recognized for Unwavering Commitment to Patients, Community

Volunteers Recognized for Unwavering Commitment to Patients, Community

There was nary a dry eye after hearing the thoughtful and inspiring words of several devoted volunteers as they stepped forward to accept awards recognizing their commitment in helping us deliver exceptional, patient-centered care to our patients at this year’s Friends of Strong (FOS) volunteer luncheon.

Among them, a diverse group of individuals who share their talents with us, and our patients. Some making a noticeable impact right away, and others leaving a long-lasting impression for countless patients, families, staff, and visitors over what may seem like a lifetime.

Each of them provide meaningful services that enhance the patient experience—by providing patient transportation, delivering flowers, or simply showing a friendly smile. Some of them even help FOS raise funds to further support patient care programs. Collectively, just over 1,300 volunteers gave more than 135,000 hours of their time over the past year serving throughout Strong Memorial Hospital and a number of our off-site locations.

“Nominated by their fellow volunteers and site coordinators, this year’s volunteer award honorees have shown all of us their unwavering commitment to community values,” says Sandy Arbasak, director of Friends of Strong. “While it’s only once a year that we get to honor the very best among them, we thank all of our volunteers, every day, for the gift of their service.”

Frona Rossman

Friends of Strong volunteer Frona RossmanRecipient 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; Frona volunteered with pediatric Child Life for 22 years, bringing countless smiles to our littlest patients, as well as families and staff. Those who’ve gotten to know her say that Frona has more energy and enthusiasm than some teenagers, along with a keen sense of humor which often induces a hearty laugh and broad smile. She says that her ability to volunteer gives her purpose and volunteering at Strong is “the best gift God could have given me.”


Betty McClenney and Kay Prey

Friends of Strong volunteers Betty McClenney and Kay PreyThe Elizabeth Crozier Award, presented in recognition of outstanding long term service to FOS and Strong Hospital, is given this year to two amazing friends, Betty McClenney and Kay Prey, whose friendship began at Friends of Strong. They’ve collectively served more than 5,700 hours in our Family Waiting Room over the past two decades. Both committed to maintaining a positive waiting room experience for those waiting for their loved ones in surgery, Betty and Kay excel in providing reassurance and support during often stressful times for patient families.

A retired teacher, Kay first began volunteering at Strong in October 1999. She has also served on the FOS Leadership Council both as a member, and later as President.

Also a retired teacher, Betty started volunteering in the waiting room in January 2001, and has dedicated herself to giving back to others via her role here at Strong, and at her church.  She has also served on the FOS Leadership Council. 


Linda and Jack Wagner

Friends of Strong volunteers Linda and Jack WagnerWith more than 25 years of volunteer service at Ronald McDonald House Rochester, the Wagners are this year’s Dove Award recipients. Together, this husband and wife duo are actively involved in hosting the Ronald McDonald Coffee Hour at Golisano Children’s Hospital where families find relief, respite and bonding experiences with other families. Their kindness knows no bounds and exemplifies everything the Dove award stands for in recognizing those who go above what’s expected, all in service to our patients and their families.



Michael Volpe

Friends of Strong volunteer Michael VolpeIn recognition of the highest and most consistent level of volunteer service and dedication to patient- and family–centered care, Michael is this year’s recipient of the Louise Criticos Award. Three days each week, he faithfully volunteers at Strong’s Main Lobby Information Desk, assisting in transporting patients, escorting visitors, offering wheelchairs to those in need, delivering flowers, and always polite and unfailing in seeking out ways in which to help everyone he meets. “Michael is an amazing, well-polished volunteer who consistently exhibits the ICARE values each time he volunteers,” say those with whom he volunteers.


Lisa Kemak

The 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 Lisa Kemak, who has faithfully volunteered in Café 601 since the summer of 1989. Much-loved by those who know her, Lisa is outgoing and friendly with everyone she meets and goes out of her way to assist them in any way she can. She’s hard-working and always takes initiative to jump right in and help.


Laura Hepburn

Friends of Strong volunteer supervisor Laura HepburnOur volunteer programs couldn’t exist without the support of community-minded staff willing to take on or create volunteer roles within their areas. As a show of thanks and appreciation for the staff members who step up to coordinate a volunteer program, FOS each year recognizes one of them for their exceptional skills in training, recognizing and including volunteers as a member of the team. As this year’s recipient of the Frances Brownell Volunteer Supervisor Award, Laura is highly regarded by her Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation Guest Services volunteers for making them feel welcomed, valued, and well-informed. “Whether they’re directing patients to the correct suite, offering them assistance with a wheelchair, or just saying good morning, our volunteers go above and beyond every day,” she says.


Matt Ulakovic | 10/30/2018

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