All this month, in honor of Volunteer Month, I have been writing about the people who volunteered with Healing Environments at St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, PA. I have talked about a few of the people who made the program special, who contributed their talents and their hearts to helping others. Before we move on to my next topic, the many ways to volunteer, I would like to mention two more people from the program. These two individuals, like several I mentioned this month, passed away before my book was published. I want to honor them, and everyone who participated in the Healing Environments Program.
Camille stands out because she was gifted in so many ways. She was a teacher, a Eucharistic minister, and talented seamstress But her special gift was her ability to encourage others. In her professional life, she taught special needs children and went on to study “Hands-on Science”techniques for kindergarten through third grade. She and her husband, Bill, lived in a 55+ community where they had many friends, most of whom were encouraged by Camille to provide the program with neck pillows for patients.
As an enthusiastic “cheerleader” for our program , Camille wouldn’t take no for an answer. If someone didn’t sew, she taught them how to stuff the neck pillows. If they could hand sew, she showed them how to stitch the seam closed. If they had a sewing machine, they were given fabric and the pattern for the neck rolls. When we introduced the Veteran Appreciation Program, she and her friends made hundreds of neck rolls using fabric imprinted with stars, stripes, and flags. Toward the end of Camille’s life, the group would meet at her home to make it more convenient for her, and for Bill to bring the finished items to my office.
Dear Camille, we know you’re “up there” spreading beauty everywhere.
Ruth had a long and fruitful career in education. After she retired, few people could recall seeing Ruth without knitting needles unless she was sewing or reading with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was known for her creativity but also for her lively personality, and her strength and courage in the face of adversity. Mostly, she was known for her interest in others and for taking time for people in need.
In later years, Ruth and her husband wintered in Florida. Before their drive south, she would come to my office to receive several large bags of yarn that she took with her, her “stash” for the winter. In the spring, she returned with the ten to twelve unique afghans she had made during the previous months.
Thank you, Ruth, for your devotion to our patients as you shared your talents and gave so generously. Thanks also for the gift of your beautiful smile and warmth.
The memories of Camille and Ruth, and all the others who passed are a blessing. The Healing Environments Program could never have succeeded without them, but beyond that, the hundreds of people helped by these amazing, talented, gifted volunteers has a ripple effect that goes far beyond what they ever imagined.