Volk receives 2020 HAMC Volunteer of the Year award
Shelley Block, volunteer coordinator at Heart of America Medical Center, describes longtime hospital volunteer Lois Volk as “a kind heart and a faithful soul.”
Volk received the 2020 Volunteer of the Year award from HAMC recently at her home in Rugby.
In pre-COVID years, Block and HAMC staff presented the award to outstanding volunteers at a banquet. However, the banquet was canceled during the first year of the pandemic. In 2021, Block and three other representatives presented the award in a simpler, less crowded setting – outside Volk’s home.
Block spoke of Volk in glowing terms when she wrote, “Lois has been volunteering in the care center and at the Haaland Home for the past 12 years. Her comforting smile has always been there to greet residents, especially on Wednesdays. Every single Wednesday, Lois volunteered at the Care Center to help bring residents to the chapel for Mass and then return them back to their rooms.”
Volk said of the award, “I was shocked. I was totally surprised. Shelley called me the night before and I thought she was going to ask me to do something. And she said, ‘The reason I’m calling is you’ve been chosen as the Volunteer of the Year for 2020.’ And I said something like, ‘What?’ But I was just surprised.”
Like most other activities at the care center, Wednesday Masses were affected by the global COVID pandemic.
“Since COVID, we haven’t been up there,” Volk said of her trips to the care center. “I think the chaplain is having church services.”
“There was a group of us that went up there on Wednesdays,” Volk said, describing her volunteer work. “My husband and I would set up the altar. My husband was doing it first, actually, because I was still working. And I’m not even Catholic, but he was doing it and then just said, ‘You should come, too.'” She added with a laugh.
“I knew all the volunteers that were helping, so I did and we would set up the altar and get things ready for the priest, and we’d bring all the residents in from the second and third floor and bring them into the room they had Mass in and take them back afterwards,” Volk said. “And I helped with a few surveys they had and a couple of things like that over at the Haaland Home. And that’s what I did. It wasn’t that major a thing. I’m so surprised to get this award.”
“It was fun,” Volk said of her volunteer work. “You’d get to know some of these people and there were a couple in particular that you’d just get a little close to. And they’d look forward to seeing you on Wednesday. It was fun to visit with them.”
“While outside circumstances have kept the Volunteer Appreciation Event from happening, it did not stop Volunteer Director Shelley Block, past President Bev Paul, and current President Marlene Schaan from presenting Lois with her much deserved reward,” Block wrote, adding, “Thank you, Lois, for always being there for our residents. Your kindness brightens each day, and we appreciate everything that you do.”
“None of us that were helping with the Masses are helping anymore (because of COVID). I don’t believe they’re having a priest up there. It’s been about a year, I think, since we’ve been up there,” Volk said.
“And to top that off, my husband had a stroke in June of 2020, so he was in the hospital for rehab all summer, so we wouldn’t have been able to do that anyway last year,” she added.
Volk said her husband was on the mend. “He’s doing okay. He’s able to walk around the house and everything like that. He does pretty good. He doesn’t like to go out. He doesn’t do that. But, he’s able to walk around the house and things, so we’re doing okay.”
“I got a nice clock they presented me with. It says, ‘Volunteer of the Year, 2020.’ They’re great people up there,” Volk said of Block and HAMC staff.
“We’ve all enjoyed it,” Volk said of the group who helped residents attend Wednesday Masses.
“It was also a gathering for us at the same time, the group of us that volunteered and the residents.”
“Some of them just really enjoy talking,” Volk said of the residents at HAMC’s care center. “I knew a certain lady up there who was a very quiet lady. And you got to know her and pretty soon, she’s out of her shell and she’s smiling all the time. And it’s fun to see that. It really is.”
Block said the hospital staff appreciates all Volk has done as a volunteer over the years. “Her warm smile and willingness to help the resident in any way is amazing,” Block wrote.
Volk said she wasn’t certain if or when she could volunteer again. Most of the future depends on her husband’s health and the course of the COVID pandemic.
However, she said she hopes she can help somehow as a volunteer in the future.
“The residents miss the contact with people, that’s for sure,” Volk said. “I guess time will tell what happens there.”
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