In April we celebrate National Volunteer Month and all of our extraordinary volunteers. Our nearly 1,700 volunteers help provide life-changing care, support and comfort for our community. Each year we honor the very best with our Volunteer of the Year Awards.
The Mary J. Labyak Legacy Award is the highest honor bestowed on volunteers and this year it has been awarded to Ray and Ellie Weaver, who have been with the Suncoast Hospice Burgundy Team since March of 2005. Over the past 16 years they have made significant contributions to patients and families. That dedication has earned Ray and Ellie a combined total of 15,245 hours of service.
“We are humbled and very happy to have served hospice these many years,” says Ellie.
The couple met at a Catholic youth dance in Toledo, Ohio in March of 1958. They discovered they both lived on Bancroft Street, only Ellie failed to mention to Ray that she lived on the other side of town, over 25 miles away. Nevertheless, Ray began courting Ellie and on Christmas Eve of 1958, after Midnight Mass, he presented her with an engagement ring, a beautiful cross and a mirror for her car so she could put her lipstick on.
Ray and Ellie moved to Florida in 1984, and after a long career in the grocery chain business, Ray became an activities director in a local nursing home for 15 years. Following his successful cancer surgery in 2005, Ray and Ellie said to each other, “God’s been very good to us and we should give back a little.” Since that time, Ray and Ellie have faithfully visited two Burgundy Team nursing homes twice a week. During those visits they saw all of the hospice patients being served.
Together, they are trusted ambassadors to the community. On Valentine’s Day 2020, Ray and Ellie represented Suncoast Hospice when they were interviewed on the Great Day Live show. Not only did they promote volunteering, Ellie also promoted our Resale Shops by featuring the beautiful pink sweater she was wearing and had purchased there for a mere $3.
Ray and Ellie never miss an educational opportunity or a volunteer support meeting, serving as role models and mentors to other volunteers. At one of those recent volunteer support meetings, those same volunteers gathered to celebrate Ray and Ellie’s 60th wedding anniversary.
“We’ve met a lot of nice people along the way. We are proud to be a part of this team and want to thank all the staff,” adds Ray. “We can’t wait to get back into those nursing homes when the COVID restrictions are lifted.”
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