We continue to celebrate our volunteers during National Volunteer Month. Learn about two more of our 2021 Volunteer of the Year Award winners and their extraordinary service.
James “Jim” Sirrianna – Miriam “Bunny” Flarsheim Patient and Family Support Volunteer Award
Jim Sirriana has been a volunteer with Suncoast Hospice, a member of Empath Health, for the past seven years and has donated nearly 800 hours. Before retiring, he spent 30 years working for the Veterans Administration assisting disabled veterans, many at the end of life. It is this path that led him to Suncoast Hospice.
“Jim is the gold standard for what it means to be a patient and family volunteer,” says nominator and Volunteer Coordinator Denise Harrison. “He has diverse talents and a well-rounded personality that embodies so many of our values.”
Sirriana has worked with many teams across the organization in various care settings. He has volunteered with home teams and in the Mid-Pinellas Care Center providing transportation, companionship, respite, social and 11th hour visits and often incorporates additional training in Reiki, aromatherapy and music to provide comfort. As a U.S. Army veteran, he also serves veteran patients through the Veterans Serving Veterans program.
“I look forward to my time at the Care Center each week,” says Sirriana. “When I’m there I seek the patients who are restless, frightened or lonely. To be at their bedside in the final hours is sacred to me. I’m blessed to be able to serve.”
Sirriana is a trusted team member who always has the best interests of patients at heart. When he sits with patients who are close to death, he brings readings and prayers from several religions to respect each patient’s preference. When those are unknown, he will read silently. He seeks to be present in the moment with every patient he visits. Through his empathy and calming presence, Sirriana has become a mentor and an example to other volunteers.
Outside of Empath Health, Sirriana is active in the greater community volunteering as a mentor to middle school students, church youth leader and sports team coach and gives time to the Ronald McDonald House.
Linda Kingsbury – Organizational Support Award
Linda Kingsbury has been a volunteer with Empath Health since November 2008. During that time she has donated more than 2,500 hours to both the pharmacy and sewing activities.
Starting as a pharmacy volunteer, she delivered prescription medications to patients with her husband every week. When her husband became ill and admitted under the care of Suncoast Hospice, she was grateful for the service provided at the North Pinellas Care Center.
“I was not expecting her to continue as a volunteer after the loss of her husband, but her willingness to make a difference to others kept her going,” says volunteer coordinator Patricia Roller, who nominated Kingsbury.
“My husband, Henry, and I first became aware of the wonderful care of Suncoast Hospice when his uncle was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. We were so impressed we decided to see about volunteering,” says Kingsbury. “The pharmacy seemed a good fit for us and we volunteered every week for seven years until Henry developed a malignant brain tumor. He spent two weeks at the North Pinellas Care Center. I cannot say enough about the care he and our whole family received.”
Many volunteers join the organization after experiencing a loss, however it can be difficult to continue an assignment you enjoyed with your partner who is no longer there. Regardless, Kingsbury wanted to continue on. She even found a way to recruit two other volunteers to assist her with deliveries.
Even through the pandemic, Kingsbury has remained dedicated to making deliveries. She is willing to volunteer holidays and extra days when needed and at times has come in at a moment’s notice. The pharmacy teams knows they can count on Kingsbury to report on any potential problems or safety issues and will make multiple delivery attempts if needed. She consistently advocates for all patients, participants, clients and families.
Kingsbury continues to be an active sewing volunteer and bakes treats for the pharmacy team every week. She is always a listening ear to others, regardless of it they are a patient, staff or volunteer. She takes time to learn about their stories, lives and who they are as a person.
She speaks openly about why she likes volunteering and has recruited not only volunteer drivers, but additional sewing volunteers. Over the past year Kingsbury has picked up and delivered sewing materials for fellow volunteers staying at home due to the pandemic. Often making these stops before starting her pharmacy delivery route.
“I can truly say without hesitation, she inspires me,” adds Roller. “Her selflessness, commitment, brave heart and empathy are true and natural. This is who she is.”
Help Your Community – Be a Volunteer
Click here to learn more about our volunteer opportunities or to contact volunteer services for more information.