Volunteers are truly at the heart of the Visiting Nurse Association of the Treasure Coast (VNA), they are indispensable. And there are so many ways to volunteer, from sitting vigil with someone on hospice to working at the VNA Hidden Treasures Thrift Store – and many things in between. To recognize volunteers who have donated significant numbers of hours, the VNA Director of Volunteer Programs, Sara Bumgarner, recently presented them with the President’s Volunteer Service Award, which was created to “recognize the important role of volunteers in America’s strength and national identity” and to honor “the volunteers who are using their time and talents to solve some of the toughest challenges facing our nation,” according to AmeriCorps, an independent agency of the United States government that leads the initiative.
There are four tiers of presidential volunteer service awards: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Lifetime Achievement. Sara presented her volunteers with either the Gold Award, which requires 500 + hours of service, or the Lifetime Achievement Award, which requires 4,000 + hours. There were a total of 19 award recipients, with 13 receiving the Gold Award and six receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award; all of the Lifetime Achievement Award volunteers donated more than 5,000 hours!
Whether a Gold or Lifetime Achievement recipient, all of the volunteers were visibly moved. “I’ve been overwhelmed. I feel very honored,” says Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Beth Fish. Another Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Melanie Preston, concurs. “I volunteer because it’s a wonderful thing to do and I don’t ever expect to be recognized for it.”
Gold recipient, Karen Ferrando, a veteran who participates in VNA’s Veteran-to-Veteran volunteer program, also appreciates the recognition. “I’m honored,” she says. “I’ve been a volunteer with the VNA probably for about five years…so what brought me to the VNA? I retired from the Air Force after 20 years and I wanted to give back to the community, especially veterans, so what I do for my veterans is we put together a package. The ladies make a nice afghan for them, (and) we make a nice certificate. We have a music therapist that comes out and sings their specific national anthem…I present the certificate (and) I do a reading for them (and) a hand salute – total military protocol.”
One thing that Sara Bumgarner wants to make crystal clear, is that whether a volunteer donates one hour or 1,000 hours – they are always appreciated and welcome at the VNA. So once again, a big thank you to all of our wonderful VNA volunteers!
If you’re interested in possibly joining the VNA family as a volunteer, please visit www.vnatc.com/volunteer to learn more about our program.
About the VNA
The VNA of the Treasure Coast provides home healthcare services—including Medicare-reimbursed and private-duty nursing; home health aides; physical, speech, and occupational therapy; in-home companions; and personal transportation—throughout Indian River County. The agency is also the only licensed hospice provider in Indian River County, offering end-of-life care in patients’ homes, local hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and the VNA Hospice House. The non-profit organization also provides community health services such as flu vaccinations, no-cost blood pressure/blood glucose screenings, and education on health-related topics in various settings.