04/30/10 — Cherry Hospital honors volunteers

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Cherry Hospital honors volunteers

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 30, 2010 1:46 PM

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Emily H. Moore speaks after being awarded the Edythe O. Blanton Volunteer Service Award during the Cherry Hospital Volunteer Appreciation Awards presentation.

Cherry Hospital is in the "ebb and flow of change," but it will eventually realize its full potential as a model psychiatric treatment facility, Director Philip Cook said during the hospital's annual volunteer appreciation recognition ceremony Thursday night.

And while the evening was designed to formally thank volunteers for their contribution throughout the year, Cook took the time to share a progress report with those in attendance.

"If there's anything I have learned in my first year at Cherry Hospital, it's how important Cherry Hospital is," he said. "Obviously in the care we provide our patients, but in addition to that, all as part of that mission of Cherry, it has become more and more clear to me as we go along."

The hospital plays a vital role in the lives of people across the entire eastern part of the state, Cook said. In his travels, he has also discovered just how many people are pulling for Cherry to succeed.

"People want us to do well and you're a key part of our doing well," he told the volunteers. "You do some things that frankly, our employees can't do. ... You're here because you care about the hospital and our patients and what Cherry is about."

But progress requires change, Cook said.

"Change is a very hard thing. We have been working over the past year in particular to make changes and to try to make things better. Change is a hard thing to be going through and some of it is frustrating to folks.

"Hospitals don't change overnight, hospitals don't change in a week, hospitals don't change in a year. To become the hospital we want to be -- one year in, we have at least a couple years (ahead) to build on the foundation we have started this first year," he said. "I'm sharing with you that we need your continued support, we need your prayers. We're in the ebb and flow of change. There's some things we can celebrate as great victories, but persevere and hang in there with us."

Recognition was given in several categories, including new volunteers who shared an award, one given to the director's wife for her own volunteer service and one to a new church that has made Cherry part of its outreach ministry.

While all awards were noteworthy, the Edythe O. Blanton Award is among the most esteemed the hospital gives out. It was established in honor of Ms. Blanton, who previously served as volunteer services director at Cherry. The award was presented to Emily Moore, who was called "one of Cherry's most dedicated volunteers" by Tanya Rollins, the facility's special services director. Ms. Moore has served on the human rights committee, the board of the Cherry Foundation and helped with a variety of events for nearly two decades, Mrs. Rollins said.

"Y'all mean so much to me and this hospital," Ms. Moore said. "I have been here 26 years with my son and all of you, all these employees, are my dear, dear friends."

Chaplain Wilbert Johnson presented the Chapel Volunteer of the Year Award to Refuge Temple, a newly-formed church that has provided more than 150 hours of service, leading vespers services. They started in Aug. 2008 and have provided patients the opportunity to participate in a holistic experience, Johnson said.

Joanna Cook has also been a huge supporter of the spiritual needs of patients at Cherry, providing piano accompaniment during the regular Sunday morning services at the hospital, said Johnson. She was awarded the 2010 Cherry Champion Volunteer of the Year, presented to an individual or group that champions the cause and mission of Cherry Hospital.

"She started volunteering last August (and) exhibited all the wonderful attributes of a volunteer -- dependable, caring and works well with everyone," said Johnson, adding that she also creates a homelike environment for the patients. In addition to providing music for the worship service, he said, she often shares some of the history and background of the hymns she plays.

"The patients would always ask on Monday, 'Is she coming back?'" he said.

Retiree Volunteer of the Year was given to Orie Henry Jr., who retired from Cherry in 2007 and returned as a volunteer the following year. Assigned to special projects, he helps wherever he is needed, Mrs. Rollins said.

"He's a true gentleman and he aspires to help everybody who crosses his path. He's a great example to follow," she said.

The Rookie Volunteer of the Year, given to volunteers who served six months or less, went to Jean Lassiter and Judy Sasser, a "tag team" that works in medical records, said Penny Withrow, volunteer coordinator.

"There was no way of singling out just one," she explained. "One started in Oct. 2009, the other in December, and they're no stranger to Cherry Hospital since they both retired from Cherry."