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Lutheran celebrated its volunteers at the yearly luncheon held in their honor. “Every one of you is valued and appreciated,” said Suellen Carlson, Director of Community Life and the Volunteer Program. “This is a special day that we set aside to thank you for the difference you make in the lives of our residents and to announce this year’s Volunteer of the Year.”
“This year’s honoree is Cody Hemmis, a 22 year old with a loving heart and a mature appreciation for the ‘good old days,” she said. “For more than a year, it’s been a common site to see Cody, with a smile the size of Texas, transporting residents to and from the Rehab Therapy Department. He chats with employees and visitors along the way, and knows many of the residents by name.”
Cody was totally surprised and accepted the honor with humility. “This is a great facility,” Cody said. “Everyone is friendly and fun. I don’t know what I would do if it wasn’t for this volunteer program. I’m thankful for opportunity and it feels good to be appreciated.”
Cody is drawn to many of the things that have great memories for the residents. He enjoys listening to the old radio shows and to the TV programs from the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. He was born legally blind and can relate to vision challenges that many of the residents experience. “I know they get lonely sometimes and they like to socialize,” he said. “I really appreciate their stories and hearing about the ‘good old days’. I can’t use the latest technology, like cell phones and tablets, because of my blindness, so I still like the old rotary phones and other things that are familiar to this generation.”
When asked why he thinks it’s important for a young person to volunteer he replied “I was raised old-school just like the residents. We lived in the country and we had to earn what we wanted and we learned to be respectful in the way we talked and conducted ourselves. Many of the young people I know don’t act that way. This is my way of giving back.”
Carlson invited new volunteers to join the fun. “If you have a passion or a talent you’d like to share, we’re open to new ideas,” she said. Barb Slumsky talked about the knitting club that she and a few of her friends started. Roz Newton shared her story of beginning a foot spa day. “We are open to any idea that brings joy to our residents and gets them out to socialize,” Carlson said.
Volunteers are in the facilities day and night, week days and weekends. They help transport residents. They run the gift shop, assist with activities, and are friendly visitors for those who feel lonely and isolated. Every person interested in volunteering is interviewed to learn their preferences. They are matched to the activity they would enjoy the most. For more information about volunteering at Lutheran, call Mrs. Carlson at 665-8090.