By MC2 Darren M. Moore
Capt. James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center (FHCC) volunteers received their passports April 9, at the Ramada Inn in Waukegan, Ill. and were on their way, collecting stamps in their passports, and souvenirs as they were welcomed into a room filled with boundless appreciation and gratitude towards them.
In conjunction with National Volunteer Week April 6-12, Lovell FHCC’s Volunteer Awards Program – themed “Passport to Adventure” – honored nearly 200 volunteers who dedicated their time, talent and gave monetary donations to Lovell FHCC during the past year.
During the program, Kenny L. List, chief of community affairs at Lovell FHCC, emphasized the volunteers’ importance to the operation of Lovell FHCC.
“You make everything that we do possible,” List said. “I believe that the FHCC does not operate without volunteers, or at least does not operate well and smoothly, so this is our way to say thank you for everything you do.”
During fiscal year 2013, more than 800 volunteers and six therapy dogs volunteered, adding up to more than 57,000 hours. Volunteers helped in a variety of programs at Lovell, including front desk greeters, hospice volunteers in the “No Veteran Dies Alone” program, greeters in the Care Giver Support Center, members of the hydration team, therapy dog handlers, unofficial librarians pushing the book and magazine cart, assistants for patient recreation activities, My HealtheVet volunteers, patient escorts, and many other areas and activities.
“The volunteers at the FHCC are our lifeblood,” Lovell FHCC acting Director and Commanding Officer Capt. José A. Acosta said. “They are there when our patients are ill. They are there when many have given their last breath. They are there when our patients are lonely; and be assured that loneliness is very, very bad. That’s the big difference our volunteers make.”
The annual luncheon during National Volunteer Week is an opportunity for Lovell FHCC to recognize and show gratitude toward the volunteers who work tirelessly to support the facility.
Army veteran Nick Angelopulos, from Waukegan, Ill., said he enjoyed the luncheon and was appreciative that so many volunteers were recognized for what they do. He has volunteered at Lovell FHCC for 11 years and has accumulated more than 10,000 volunteer hours. He said he stays active; having a hand in many volunteer areas.
“I’ve been handling people my whole life,” Angelopulos said. “I like working with people, I’ve been helping people ever since I was 10 years old.”
Donald R. Nys, a retired chief hospital corpsman, from Green Bay, Wis., said he also had fun at the luncheon, which he attended with his wife, Sandy, who also is a longtime volunteer at Lovell FHCC. Nys helps his wife as the hospital representative for the American Legion Auxiliary. He volunteers in the Caregiver Support Center on Fridays and helps out in Community Affairs in Building 135.
Nys said he enjoys working with the patients, and helping with events such as the spring and fall dances and seeing the patients dress up and have a good time.
For more information on how to get involved in volunteering and helping the mission of “Readying Warriors and Caring for Heroes” at Lovell FHCC, contact List at 224-610-3139.