Niagara Hospice recently pulled out the red carpet for a "Viva Las Vegas" celebration of the organization's greatest resource: volunteers.
"The dedicated volunteers of Niagara Hospice give their time, talents and skills to help our patients and families as they deal with serious illness," volunteer coordinator Mandy Raff said. "Whether it's visiting patients in their home or in one of our contracted facilities, providing a respite for caregivers, helping in the office, or at special events, each volunteer makes a huge difference."
This year, the annual Niagara Hospice volunteer appreciation included a Las Vegas-style show at the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda followed by dinner and drinks at Crazy Jake's Restaurant and a performance by Velvet Elvis, a local Elvis impersonator. Following the celebration, awards were presented to volunteers who reflect the mission and philosophy of Niagara Hospice in their role as volunteers.
"Our Niagara Hospice volunteers are special people, each dedicated to their service to others. This is truly a celebration of them," said volunteer coordinator Andrea Haseley.
The Patricia L. Evans Founders Award was presented to Rita Beitz of Lockport; the Niagara Hospice Directors Award was given to Shirley Wagner of Lockport; and Gene Brayley of Lockport received the Ernie Leder Memorial Speaker's Bureau Award. Longtime Camp Hope volunteers and organizers were recognized for their dedication and service. Camp Hope is a free bereavement camp for children ages 7-13 presented each year by Niagara Hospice. Honored recipients were Joanne Ruppel-Frawley, Matt Renzi and Dr. Sam Pappalardo.
Other honorees for their outstanding work with residents receiving hospice services at skilled nursing facilities include Mary Beth Beane of Newfane for her work at Rebekah's Pathway located at Odd Fellow & Rebekah Rehabilitation and Health Care Center; Pat Longstreet of Barker for her work at Niagara Hospice House; Janet Ryan of North Tonawanda for her work at Hospice at Jeanne's House at Northgate Healthcare Facility; and Linda Malinowski of Youngstown for her work at David's Path located at Schoellkopf Health Care Facility.
June Koepcke of Wilson was presented an award for her work in administration and Bob Reese of Youngstown received the Special Events Award for his help with fundraising. The outstanding Pet Volunteer Award went to Boo, a 3-year-old white Maltese, owned by Peg Stevenson of Barker, who accepted on Boo's behalf. An additional nine volunteers were honored with five years of service to Niagara Hospice. Kathy Laynor of Amherst was honored for 15 years of service and Marilyn Freeman of Lockport was recognized for 20 years of service.
Niagara Hospice will hold a new volunteer training from 5-9 p.m. Nov. 5-6 at 4675 Sunset Drive, Lockport. For more information or to apply to the volunteer program, call 716-280-0748 or visit www.NiagaraHospice.org.