Volunteer of the Year – Loretta Keaner

At a recent meeting of the Helping Hands Respite Care, our Volunteer of the Year, Loretta Keaner was acknowledged. Loretta started working as a volunteer in January of 2016. Her service to Helping Hands Respite Care has included a weekly commitment to the Adult Day Services program, a monthly commitment to Kate’s Memory Café, and some assistance with our annual family picnic and hosting of The Ability Experience riders from Pi Kappa Phi.

Volunteer of the Year, Loretta, serves the Adult Day Services Program

Alison Sarkozy describes Loretta as a true asset to the Adult Day program. “She is a real go-getter, she always tell it like it is and is not afraid to put our caregiver staff in their place, “shared Alison. “ And, I love it! Anything you ask her to do she will jump right in without hesitation. Loretta is always there for our member/participants providing encouragement and support, and also being a non-judgmental sounding board if the member is working through a tough moment.”

Volunteer of the Year Supports Kate’s Memory Cafe

Volunteer of the Year, Loretta Keaner helping out at Kate's Memory Cafe with some balloon volleyball.Katie Donovan spoke of Loretta as her right-hand at making the Memory Café a success. “If there is some lively musical entertainment Loretta will jump up and encourage our visitors to clap along or even dance,” said Katie. “At our last Memory Café we had a mother/daughter duo as entertainment. They spontaneously decided to sing the famous song “My Prayer” ….everyone was transfixed and moved by the beautiful rendition of the song. I am so glad I caught Loretta in the background of the video of the ladies singing ….at one point Loretta slipped into the kitchen to grab a Kleenex to wipe her tears away. That moment of vulnerability just warmed my heart.” Loretta has also provides a very personal gift of service to my Mom at the Memory Café. While Mom attends as my partner in care, she doesn’t see herself as needing any help or support. Loretta treats Mom as a co-volunteer and always make her feel needed and useful. As Mom continues to decline in her own journey with dementia, these moments of competence supplied by Loretta mean so much to me – she can offer Mom something that I simply can’t give as her caregiver and daughter – a simple acknowledgment as a friend.”

Volunteer of the Year Pitches in at Annual Family Picnic

The Annual Family Picnic and Welcoming Event for the 37 plus fraternity brothers from across the nation is an opportunity for more service from Loretta. Putting on the picnic event is a big effort and every volunteer makes it that much easier to give up a Sunday afternoon in July for this event.

We are so thankful that Loretta so generously shares her time and talent.
It was an easy choice to single out Loretta Keaner as our 2017 Volunteer of the Year!

Volunteer of the Year Award Shared

Volunteer of the Year Award Shared by Katie Donovan and Vicki Rakowski.

At a recent special gathering of the Helping Hands Board of Directors two special people were invited to attend. This is the meeting in which the Board of Directors announces and honors the Volunteer of the Year shared by two individuals this year. The two people were selected because together their efforts have had a significant impact on our organization. Vicki Rakowski our volunteer Volunteer Coordinator and Katie Donovan our Marketing and Fund Development Consultant.

Executive Director John Stauffer presented his comments and acknowledgement on behalf of the staff and Board of Directors:

Vicki Rakowski

There is not a single word that describes Vicki Rakowski. She is a very complex individual who lives life to the fullest. Vicki is a retired nurse, but this does not stop her from lending a hand wherever she can. She is energetic, knowledgeable, driven, compassionate, motivating, a great friend, a motivator, and an all-around class act. Vicki is known to bring a high level of energy to anything she takes on. When there is a need, Vicki is there to tackle the problem. Helping Hands has been fortunate to have Vicki help create a volunteer handbook/manual, as well as forms required to bring volunteers on board. This process has improved the volunteer program by creating efficient processes for finding, recruiting, retaining volunteers, and making them feel like part of our family here at Helping Hands Respite Care. Her presence, opinions, and skills, are greatly valued.
“I am so honored to be recognized like this – truly I am the one that is on the receiving end of this relationship,” shared Rakowski.

Katie Donovan

Katie has worked with Helping Hands for approximately three years in both consulting and volunteer roles. She has always been committed to the agency and its mission. Katie is responsible for guiding the process for creating the current name and brand identity for Helping Hands Respite Care. In addition to being a wonderful marketing consultant, Katie has implemented our sustainable fund raising model. She has become the voice and creator behind the technology and communication aspects related to our excellent electronic newsletter, website, and Facebook page. Katie also single handedly created Kate’s Memory Café, which takes place on the second Sunday of every month at the Adult Day Services program building. She volunteers to facilitate the monthly event and create the agenda for the Memory Café. Katie recently took on the project of soliciting and coordinating volunteers for our Respite House renovation, donating over 50 hours of time over and above her consulting responsibilities. Katie has generated more funds, members, and support from the community all because of her belief in Helping Hands Respite Care.
“Choosing to create and facilitate the Memory Café has been a very personal labor of love. I do it to honor my mother and my father. Mom was the caregiver for Dad as he fought the losses and diminishing awareness that the cruel disease of Alzheimer’s brought on our family,” commented Donovan.