04/28/09 — Cherry Hospital honors volunteers for service

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Cherry Hospital honors volunteers for service

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 28, 2009 1:46 PM

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From left are Dr. Dorothy Heath, chapel volunteer of the year; Ray Deans, Cherry Champion Award recipient; Sheila Gardner, Rookie of the Year award; and Amy Roux, executive director of the Mental Health Association in Wayne County, which received the Edythe O. Blanton Volunteer Service Award. Absent was Janet Ostapczuk, Cherry Hospital Retiree of the Year.

This year's volunteer appreciation luncheon at Cherry Hospital was a blast from the past, as the event took on a 1950s theme.

"Volunteers rock," said Tanya Rollins, director of volunteer services, dressed in a pink poodle skirt amid decorations that included hula hoops and pictures of a jukebox and Elvis Presley.

Five awards were presented at the gathering.

The Rev. Wilbert Johnson, hospital chaplain, handed out the Chapel Volunteer of the Year award to Dr. Dorothy Heath and the Golden Nuggets.

She started volunteering in June 2007, he said, contributing some 252 hours of service that included involving nine community churches in the Christmas cantata and creating a "community effort in making a difference in the lives of patients at Cherry."

Rookie of the Year award went to Sheila Gardner, who along with her dog, Genni, visited units as part of the Therapaws program.

"Genni is very comforting to the patients with her mild and gentle demeanor," said Penny Withrow, volunteer services coordinator.

The Cherry Hospital Retiree of the Year was Janet Ostapczuk, who worked at the hospital for 30 years. As a volunteer, she was assigned to special services and special projects, contributing 46 hours to different projects.

"She went out on the coldest day of the year back in November and she picked up pecans for our work therapy program so that we could sell them for the 'Forgotten Patient Fund,'" Mrs. Withrow said.

Added this year was the Cherry Champion Award, presented to a new individual or group of volunteers who champion the mission of Cherry Hospital.

Described as "outstanding, responsible, caring and works well with everyone," Ray Deans was credited with contributing 419 hours of service since he started in October 2007.

"You can find this volunteer anywhere from the ballfield to Riverbend School to the pecan grove to the gym maintaining booths for the holiday bazaar," Mrs. Withrow said.

The recipient of the Edythe O. Blanton Volunteer Service Award went to an organization that has supported patients for more than 45 years, Mrs. Withrow announced.

"Our earliest records said that this group back in 1962 ... helped volunteer services get started," she said.

The Mental Health Association in Wayne County focused its earliest efforts on the children's unit, Mrs. Withrow said, ranging from going on field trips and offering grooming classes to providing donations for children to attend summer day camp. In recent years, it expanded to include assistance for the adult department.

"Every unit at Cherry Hospital has benefited from this organization," she said, noting that time sheets indicate the group has provided more than 2,100 hours of service to date.