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URMC / Strong Memorial Hospital / Friends of Strong / The Best of Friends Blog / October 2019 / Inspiring Volunteers Recognized for Unwavering Commitment to Patients, Community

Inspiring Volunteers Recognized for Unwavering Commitment to Patients, Community

The recipients of the 2019 Friends of Strong Memorial Hospital Volunteer Service Award Gather at the celebration luncheon.

They are the first faces our patients and visitors see when they enter Strong West, and they often are the last people a patient sees before going home from Strong Hospital. They give toys to pediatric patients, and often bring homemade desserts to share with staff. They provide comfort and hope in a gentle and reassuring way. They are our hospital volunteers, and their service to our community speaks volumes.

Among some 1,300 volunteers who’ve given more than 143,000 hours of their time throughout Strong Memorial Hospital and many of our off-site locations over the past year, eight of them are being recognized for their compassion, their kindness, their leadership and their steadfast loyalty to our patients and staff as recipients of the 2019 Friends of Strong Memorial Hospital Volunteer Service Awards.

Many of Strong’s volunteers make a noticeable impact right away, and still, others leave a long-lasting impression for patients, families, staff and visitors. “Their commitment to helping us deliver exceptional, patient-centered care to our patients is priceless,” says Sandy Arbasak, director of the hospital’s volunteer service organization. “Each of them provide meaningful services that enhance the patient experience—by providing patient transportation, delivering flowers, or simply showing a friendly smile.”

Each recipient is nominated by fellow volunteers or site coordinators, who shared what makes their service stand out from an impressive group of heroes among us. “While we’re only able to honor these amazing individuals once a year, we thank all of our volunteers, every day, for the gift of their service,” adds Joyce Stadtmiller, Volunteer Program manager for Friends of Strong.

The Dove Award

Marsha Clark and Carol Ennis at Strong Memorial Hospital West Campus.The Dove Award recognizes volunteers who have completed at least three years of courteous, respectful service and often ‘go the extra mile’ for our patients, families and staff. This year’s recipients are Marsha Clark and Carol Ennis.

Marsha and Carol are the first faces patients and visitors see when they enter Strong West. They really set the pace for the patient’s visit and treat everyone that comes in as if they were their own family. Patients who regularly visit look forward to seeing them and comment on how meaningful their friendship and support has been to them.

“I love having the opportunity to brighten people’s day, and reassure them that each day is a good day,” Carol says. “I’ve found that this puts people at ease.”

Always thinking of new ideas to improve upon the Strong West patient experience, they hand out crayons, dolls, and toys to children and sometimes even to adults who just might need a little something to spark a smile. Marsha’s even been known to knit blankets and hats for children in need of a little extra comfort and warmth.

“I really enjoy getting to help people. Volunteering is good for the community, and for us volunteers,” Marsha says with a smile. 

On top of their regular volunteering, Marsha and Carol also help organize toy donations for the Emergency Department. Carol took the lead and gathered material, recruited other volunteers to help and organized everything to be more useful and easily accessible for the staff to hand out to patients.  

“They are both wonderful role models for their compassion, kindness and service at Strong West and within the community,” says their supervisor, Jill Paladino. “It’s such a pleasure to work with them, and learn from them every day.”

The Frances Brownell Supervisor Award

Mark Bovenzi volunteers with Strong Memorial Hospital's Chaplaincy Services.The Frances Brownell Volunteer Supervisor Award this year recognizes the exceptional leadership skills of Mark Bovenzi, which translates to a better, more meaningful and rewarding experience for volunteers, as well as for patients and families. His excellent rapport with his volunteers truly embodies the essence of this special award.

Mark has spent the past three years overseeing and encouraging Strong Hospital’s Eucharistic Ministers and many of our patients. He works closely with the director of Chaplaincy Services, as well as many of the chaplains, and also works closely with the Friends of Strong office to ensure that all of his volunteers are up to date with all mandatory requirements.

Recently retired from a 47-year career at Wegmans, Mark finds joy in volunteering and spending more time with his wife, Marcia, their children and grandchildren.

“He is very passionate about his ministry work to help provide comfort and hope to patients, and seeks people out in a gentle and reassuring way,” says David Sheridan, who shadowed and trained with Mark when he first began to volunteer in the program.

Mark sees service to those in distress as a basic tenant of his faith, whether it’s to one’s own family, or those in the hospital, a long-term care facility, schools, homeless, or in prison. “Volunteering is vital to the success of service institutions,” he says. “It fulfills a personal desire to give back for blessings received, while filling a void where a service may not otherwise be available.”

Mark is truly a humble, compassionate man, and has a heart for sharing faith and hope with his volunteers, as well as our patients. “It’s really the leadership of Friends of Strong and URMC that provides and atmosphere for volunteer excellence,” he says. “It’s a great place to be of service.”

The Hettie Shumway Award

Nancy Sanza volunteers at the Cardiac Cath Lab at URMC.The Hettie Shumway Role Model Award 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. It is named for Hettie Shumway, a leadership volunteer who served for many years at Strong Memorial Hospital. This year’s recipient is Nancy Sanza. Her gift of compassion, caring, kindness, and steadfast loyalty to our patients and staff illustrates the essence of role as an exceptional volunteer.

Nancy has been a treasured volunteer in the Cardiac Cath lab for the past two years. Her impact on patients and staff in that area is clearly evident in the remarks of those who nominated her. “Nancy radiates a sense of happiness from the time she enters the unit to the time she leaves” says nurse manager Peggy Bowen. “She has been my personal hero and savior on occasions when a patient needed assistance and staff were not immediately available.” Nurse Brittany Sullivan, who also works closely with Nancy, agrees. “Nancy is truly a pleasure to have in our unit—we are thankful for all she does for us!”

Nancy considers volunteering a privilege, noting that she works with a dynamic team of professionals who provide the highest quality of care. She has a deep appreciation for the level of patient care exhibited on the unit and is honored to be able to assist. “The staff have allowed me to become an extension of the team. From the minute I enter the unit, I can feel their giving spirit,” she says. “Every day with them gives me a sense of community and of joy.”

Nancy has been a registered nurse for the last 37 years and has found her career to be “the most rewarding ever.” She presently works part time at the Rochester Psychiatric Center and loves the work that she does there. Her children and grandchildren are the highlight of her life.

The Louise Criticos Award

Anne Elphick and Sue Gay volunteer at Strong Memorial Hospital's West campus.This year’s recipients of the Louise Criticos Award for Patient- and Family-Centered Care are Anne Elphick and Sue Gay, for their collaborative achievements in meeting the best and most consistent level of service to our patients, their families and our staff. They’ve been an integral part of the volunteer program at Strong West for several years, and their connection to the facility runs deep, as they’re both retirees of the facility’s previous organization, Lakeside Hospital. 

Today, they are beloved by Strong West staff and the community they serve. “They make everyone feel as comfortable as possible, always greeting you with a kind and caring smile, giving toys to our pediatric patients, and often bringing homemade desserts to share with staff,” say Jill Paladino and Joanne Thomas, who nominated them for the award. “With their caring personalities, they truly treat our patients like family, helping to put everyone at ease.”

For her part, helping to comfort kids stands out among Anne’s favorite experiences while volunteering at Strong West. “Making their visit ‘a lot less scary,’ as I recently heard one child tell his mom, makes my volunteer role worth it every time.” 

Sue also finds great joy in her time volunteering at the hospital, pointing to a recent day when she was able to help make the uncertainty of circumstances a little easier for the wife of a man being transferred to Strong’s main hospital for a serious illness. “The way I feel after those experiences—knowing that I’ve done something useful and helpful for others is what inspires me,” she says. “I feel good at the end of my shifts, knowing that I’ve contributed in a small way to make someone else’s day better and that, in turn, benefits the whole community.”

The Elizabeth Crozier Award

Rose Faucette volunteers in the Family Waiting Room at Strong Memorial Hospital.Rose Faucette is this year’s recipient of the Elizabeth Crozier Award, presented in recognition of outstanding, long term service to Friends of Strong and Strong Memorial Hospital.

Rose began volunteering in the Family Waiting Room in April 2011 after 40 years of teaching with the Rochester City School District. She was so impressed by the excellent care that the staff in the Wilmot Cancer Center had provided her beloved husband, she decided she wanted to give back and volunteer at Strong so that others would receive the same experience.

Rose quickly became a familiar face in the waiting room greeting families whose loved ones are in surgery. She ensures each and every person she meets receives clinical updates with a compassionate and empathetic approach.

“Each day I volunteer brings me rewarding experiences, especially when families receive good news,” Rose says. “Those moments are rewarding and fulfilling.”

In addition to her volunteer role in the waiting room, she also serves on several of our fundraising committees, and was an at-large FOS Council member before becoming Council president. Rose is passionate about helping to raise awareness about Friends of Strong Memorial Hospital and served at the helm of the Council when we finally reached our first-ever $1 million year for capital funding gifts in 2018.

We cannot thank Rose enough for her time, devotion, and enthusiasm to uphold our mission to provide support and services to patients, families, visitors and staff.

The College Student Award

College student Sarah Tyler volunteers in Patient Discharge at Strong Memorial Hospital.The College Student Award is presented in recognition of outstanding service to Friends of Strong while enrolled as a full time college student. Student volunteers are typically carrying a full course load and volunteer on average 3-4 hours per week. This year’s recipient is Sarah Tyler, a steadfast volunteer and a shining example of the value of giving back to one’s community at any age.

Sarah Tyler is practically a volunteer ‘lifer’ at Friends of Strong and she hasn’t even graduated from college yet! She started volunteering in patient discharge as a summer high school student in 2015 and continues volunteering there today as a college sophomore. Her volunteer experiences are not limited to Strong, as she has volunteered as a summer camp counselor, at the Rochester Museum and Science Center, and various other positions for her high school and college. 

Volunteering at Strong over several summers has earned Sarah the role as ‘mentor’ to several new high school groups that enthusiastically come to patient discharge to volunteer and make a positive, lasting impression when a patient is ready to go home. Sarah enjoys meeting new people and takes her ‘job’ as patient discharge volunteer very seriously. “As a volunteer, I act as a representative of the organization. I’m likely to be the last person in the hospital patients see before going home,” she says. “It’s my responsibility to share a smile and know my way around the hospital, so patients can get home sooner.”

Sarah is a third-year student at RIT, studying to be a Physician Assistant, and works as a PCT at Rochester Regional Health. She lives at home with her parents and brother, Matthew (also a Friends of Strong volunteer for the last two summers!).

“Volunteering provides a way for individuals to give back and make a difference,” she adds. “For me, it allowed me to help in a field I wanted to explore, and am now very passionate about.”


Matt Ulakovic | 10/28/2019

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