For Extended Care resident Robert Cook, nursing home volunteers are like icing on the cake.
Cook has resided at New Community Extended Care Facility in Newark for five years and each holiday season, he said, volunteers present the residents of the 180-bed capacity skilled nursing center with scarves, hats, sweaters, blankets and other gifts.
And that’s in addition to their faithful volunteerism the other 364 days of the year.
“They treat us real nice,” Cook, 60, president of the Extended Care Resident Association, said. “This is our appreciation.”
By “our appreciation,” Cook referred to all of Extended Care—staff and residents alike—who participated in hosting the annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner in the first floor activity room.
Volunteers like Theresa Dabney heard remarks from Facility Administrator Robert Smolin as he expressed sincere thanks.
“We’re indebted to you for your volunteerism and service,” Smolin said. He also rattled off a light-hearted list of top 10 reasons to volunteer.
Attendees feasted on a delicious meal of cornish game hen, salmon, macaroni and cheese, stuffing, vegetables, a roll, punch and dessert. Staff like Activity Director Elizabeth Brookins served dinner, refilled drinks and ensured each table was enjoying themselves as the deejay spun spirited gospel music throughout the evening.
Many volunteers come as members of local churches and hold worship services at Extended Care. “They get uplifted from it,” Smolin said of residents who attend the services.
Providing religious services also allows the nursing home to comply with state mandates regarding resident rights, he added.
Dabney, 55, of Newark, serves as a volunteer in the activities department under the guidance of Brookins. She started volunteering seven years ago. “I know mostly all of them,” Dabney said of the residents on the second floor, where she helps out.
At the end of the evening, Smolin, Brookins and Sister Mary Leticlare, the chaplain, presented award certificates to the volunteers. Attendees also received a “thank you” notepad and tote bag as gifts.