homepage logo

Giving time to others makes the spirit brighter

By Staff | Dec 12, 2018

BARB BARRETT/The Luminary These familiar faces spend much time volunteering their talent and services at UPMC’s Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Muncy. Left to right are: Bea Richart; Cassie Neidig, staff and activities director; Don Young with Maizie; Fran Sherwood; and Halley VanWhy.

MUNCY – There is a need to reach out to the community as a volunteer, and there are several opportunities awaiting at the UPMC Muncy Valley Hospital and the Muncy Skilled Nursing & Rehabilitation Center. According to the familiar faces that do, everyone has talent, and for those who have time and a need to fulfill a void, there is no better place than the hospital and nursing center to give joy and smiles.

JoAnn Welch, director of Volunteer Services and Pastoral Care, says there are many ways to offer services as a volunteer, from working at the front desk to helping in the beauty shop. It is nice to know one can pick their own times and days.

Halley VanWhy said she comes one day a week to play scrabble with the residents at the Skilled Nursing unit for the afternoon. “I stay for about an hour or two,” she said. “Some of them have no visitors.” She likes to assist with a resident who is paralyzed and can’t use her hand. “I can be of help,” she added and started to volunteer three days after her mother was admitted.

Fran Sherwood has a lovely voice, and she likes to use it to lift spirits of others. For the past ten years, Sherwood has helped out in the activities center. “I like to be the bingo caller,” she said with a warm smile.

“There is a big need all the time for volunteers,” replied Tyler Wagner, Director of Communications for UPMC who is encouraging many to “become part of the family. Volunteers get really dedicated here.”

Residents are encouraged to participate in the various activities according to director, Cassie Neidig. “We just need people to come in and sit with the residents. “Often they will ask ‘Are you coming back to tomorrow?'” An emotional connection is made with people. “They just want someone to show they still care,” added Neidig. Many just like to play cards or board games

No matter what limitations there are or what skill set there is, the bottom line is that there is always availability for volunteer work at the hospital.

Thelma White from Muncy has been volunteering since 2004. She likes to spend time helping those in same day surgery and with admissions. “I really like the Mail Express room and delivering the mail to the different departments,” said White who likes to get her start early in the morning.

VanWhy added there are many benefits to volunteering. “Sometimes the residents will tell funny stories, or tell you they missed you if you skip a time.”

Don Young has a partner who comes with him to visit. Maizie his dog, is a certified canine that has been visiting the nursing unit for the past five years. “She started when she was 4 months old,” said Young, “and she has her own ID.” For many the furry friend is the highlight of their week.

Another long time volunteer is Bea Richart. For eleven years she said she has volunteered in the beauty shop, and likes to work all week long. “It’s rewarding to stay connected with people after I retired,” she said. “Some of the residents are hilarious.”

Welch said there are many ways to give time with lots of openings in the gift shop and with admissions. Sherwood said she took a nurse’s aid course, then became an activity aid. She likes to sing and play her guitar and visits 5 to 6 different nursing homes. “They like the live music. I play oldies, 50s and 60s, country and gospel. I satisfy all genres.”

Neidig also stated that volunteers are needed for special events and coordinated activities. Help is needed to take some of the residents out to a restaurant once a month for lunch, or go on shopping trips. Most of the time it is helping those in wheelchairs. In the summer there are picnics. “There is not enough staff to help. We would love to offer more,” said Neidig. “We especially need more help over summer and holidays.”

A tour can be arranged for anyone who would like to come in and help. Any special skill or talent is always welcome. There are 128 residents, close to capacity and hours to volunteer range from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Activities are held two nights a week, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Some positions require additional time and training. Young said he has training in elder abuse. He added, “We are a benefit to the staff.”

At the end of each year, a large recognition dinner is given for the volunteers. “It is our volunteer care award,” said Wagner. “Everyone appreciates an extra smiling face,” VanWhy said. “I get more back and am so appreciative.”

To offer service as a volunteer, go to www.susquehanaheath.org/volunteers or call 570-546-4128.