South Region Volunteers Honored at Luncheons
In April we celebrate National Volunteer Month and Empath Health’s extraordinary volunteers. Our nearly 2,000 volunteers help provide Full Life Care, support and comfort for the communities we serve.
Volunteers in Empath Health’s southern region of Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties were honored during appreciation events in Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch and Venice.
Ann Morgan received an award celebrating her 25 years of volunteer service for Tidewell Hospice, a member of Empath Health. Like many of Empath Health’s treasured volunteers, Ann was inspired to give back after a personal hospice experience.
Ann said a hospice nurse at a Minnesota hospital advocated for her mother during her final days. Ann’s mother was unresponsive but still undergoing medical treatments when the nurse stepped in and reinforced Ann’s desire to discontinue treatments and medication.
“As it turned out, my Mom regained consciousness once she was off the drugs, and we had three great weeks with her before she died peacefully in her sleep. The experience made me want to help people die in familiar surroundings with their loved ones close by,” Ann said.
Ann started her Tidewell volunteer experience by making breakfast for patients at the Sarasota Hospice House. That was before Tidewell began employing dietitians and nursing aides to cook meals for patients. Ann later moved on to provide respite visits and sit vigil for patients in their final moments. She said patients often confide thoughts they felt they could not share with family members.
“Sitting vigil is a unique spiritual experience,” Ann said. “You are sharing the transition of another human being from one world to the next. I find it very moving and always strive to hold hands so they may possibly know that someone is there.”
Later, Ann returned to volunteer at the hospice house for six hours per week, greeting visitors, delivering meal trays, folding laundry and assisting with patient care when needed. Today, Ann makes tuck-in calls to the caregivers of Tidewell patients to make sure they have everything they need before holidays and weekends. She also volunteers at the Tidewell Treasures Resale Shop in Sarasota.
It’s safe to say Ann has more than repaid the kindness she received from that Minnesota hospice nurse.
“At Treasures, I get to meet other volunteers, many of whom have had family in hospice and wish to give back. My husband had hospice care and I and my family will never cease to be grateful to my Tidewell family for their caring support,” Ann said.
Empath Health honored other volunteers in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties for their length of service or for earning a President’s Volunteer Service Gold Award for accumulating 500 volunteer hours in the past calendar year.
25-Year Volunteer: Kathleen Scaramouche
Kathy first learned of hospice volunteers when she visited one of her neighbors. She was fascinated when she observed volunteers providing Reiki. Kathy signed up to be a Tidewell volunteer. She practices Reiki at the Venice Hospice House, provides patient support and assists with Tidewell Foundation events, bereavement services and administrative work.
20-Year Volunteer: Linda Feins
Linda has provided valuable support over the years to patients living in long-term care facilities. She always makes time to visit and socialize with patients, meeting them where they are. Linda is always willing to sit vigil and provide extra support and care for our patients and families.
20-Year Volunteer: Dawn Fitzpatrick
Dawn has volunteered visiting patients and providing socialization, respite and support. She also has served as a regular vigil volunteer. She is always so willing to help. When asked what she enjoyed most about her volunteer experience, Dawn said she has enjoyed meeting patients and families and hearing about their life while reflecting on her own life. She said she has received wonderful advice from those we serve about marriage, friendship and the importance of enjoying life.
20-Year Volunteer: Judy Martin
Since 2003, Judy Martin has done it all. Her more than 900 hours represent hundreds of respite and social visits, administrative tasks, creation of masks and fidget mats during the pandemic and coordinating a group in her neighborhood. She has assisted with special events and grand openings and worked at Tidewell Treasures Resale Shop for years – even unloading trucks in the back. Judy does whatever is necessary.
President’s Gold Award: Sandra Correnty
Sandy can usually be found in the backroom sorting and pricing housewares three days a week at the Tidewell Treasures store in Venice. Asked her favorite aspect of volunteering, Sandra said, “It is my joy to work for Tidewell. I love giving back to people. I love talking to the people when they donate items, and I love talking to customers when they are shopping.”
President’s Gold Award: Jolena Sloane
Jolena spent more than 800 hours last year making afghans for patients.
President’s Gold Award: Barbara Raney
Barbara has been a Tidewell volunteer since 2013, right after she retired. She has provided social, respite and vigil visits; helped with horticulture; and has spent countless hours visiting facilities with therapy dog Winston. She also concentrated on sewing quilts. The staff in Venice stands in line to get a beautiful quilt from Barbara.
President’s Gold Award: Suzy Weinbach
Suzy is a member of Friendship Knot Quilters Guild of Sarasota. She drops off dozens of fabulous quilts every two to three months and contributes hundreds of hours.
President’s Gold Award: Kelly Franz
Kelly works three shifts each week at the Sarasota Hospice House. She has more than 516 hours of service time for 2022 and more than 5,900 hours since starting with Tidewell in 2010. Kelly is dedicated to serving the patients, families and staff at the Hospice House. She also serves as a volunteer mentor and trainer to new volunteers.
President’s Gold Award: Kohner Haller
Fifteen-year-old Kohner Haller put in more than 138 volunteer hours since joining Tidewell in June 2022, including 68 in July. Kohner helps in the Empath Home Health office in Lakewood Ranch, doing clerical tasks to help support the clinical teams. About his service, he says, “I try to help with whatever it is they need so they can focus more of their time toward caring for the patients.”
Help Your Community – Be a Volunteer
Visit EmpathVolunteers.org to learn more about our volunteer opportunities or to contact volunteer services for more information.