A couple of local volunteers are finalists for the 2013 Governor's Service Awards. Both volunteer at Arbor Hospice, and WEMU's Bob Eccles had the chance to speak with them.
Volunteer of the Year
When it comes to solving community problems, individuals really make things happen. These everyday citizens are very special people who go the extra mile for their community. This award is reserved for an individual who strives to improve the lives of neighbors, friends, community, or congregation. Individuals nominated for this award could be adults, national service members, educators, and more.
- Fritz Schafer of Ann Arbor has a unique skill that he voluntarily provides to hospice patients and their families: photography. As an award-winning photographer, Fritz decided to volunteer his gift to the community and approached the Hospice of Michigan Volunteer Coordinator in 2004 about taking photos of hospice patients and their families free of charge. Together they implemented a program where patients could request a photographer to come to their home or facility to take photos and then receive a free framed and edited copy of the pictures. In 2007, Fritz relocated to the Ann Arbor community and began volunteering with the Arbor Hospice program, helping them to create a similar program called Treasured Memories. This program produces more than 20 photos for hospice families each year, and until just recently receiving a grant, Fritz covered the complete costs of the photograph printing and framing himself. In his five years with Arbor Hospice, Fritz has accumulated more than 335 volunteer hours and nearly 1,700 volunteer miles.
- Helen Buccella-Costa of Ann Arbor has been volunteering with Arbor Hospice since 2009. Originally providing comfort to patients as a member of the Threshold Choir and later as a By Your Side volunteer, Helen found a new volunteering passion in 2011 when Arbor Hospice acquired a therapy dog, Alpine. With a seven-county service area, Alpine has many visit requests across the region and Helen quickly stepped up to become Alpine's scheduler and manager. She coordinates Alpine's visits to different facilities and patient homes and trains staff and volunteers on how to properly handle the dog. In addition, Helen frequently takes Alpine on her visits and has amassed nearly 900 volunteer hours and 9,500 miles in her service with Alpine. Aside from her direct service in relation to Alpine, Helen has also helped to secure donations of veterinary attention, food, and toys for Alpine and even created a Facebook page for the canine so patients can stay connected with the beloved dog between visits.