Volunteer Appreciation Presentation

by Diane Schwinghammer, Chair Madonna Living Community Foundation Board

Every day we are given 86,400 seconds and it only takes one second to say, “Thank You”. On behalf of the Madonna Living Community Board of Directors and the Foundation Board, I take this second to say, “Thank You”. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?” He added, “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” That describes you my friends, each of you as an unselfish, caring person, Thank you and thank you for knowing that Christ lives in each resident and you give of yourself, in one way or another, to serve the residents of MLC. Pope John Paul, while addressing United Nations, said, in part, “…every human being is endowed with a dignity that must never be lessened, impaired or destroyed but must instead be respected and safeguarded…”

As I look around the room, I see a sea of faces and each one of you has a story to tell. You come from backgrounds, different family and life experiences, different eras/generations, and yet all of you have at least one thing in common, your willingness to give your time to help others.
Some of you know that my sister, Louise, was a resident at Madonna, 4 years at the Meadows and a year at the Towers Skilled Nursing Care before she passed last September. I had the privilege of giving her eulogy, and you know, an obituary and eulogy can express only a drop of what was held in a person’s life. I used the story of The Dash to express a fraction of what her life represented. So, doing something similar, I ask you to think of your birth date…. visualize it…mine is November 25, 1946. Louise’s was November 7, 1932….11/7/32…. she used those as her “magic” winning numbers in Bingo!!

Following your birthdate with a dash….and then a blank line beginning with 20……Of course, this represents the date of birth and death, separated by the dash. As I said in Louise’s eulogy, it is that dash that represents our life. Your dash will include the time you have given to make a difference in someone’s life at Madonna. You took the time to distribute communion to someone waiting to receive, leading the rosary for meditation, filling the bird feeders, aside from feeding the birds it gives the residents the joy of seeing these humble creatures, giving manicures…..oh my, what stories those hands that you hold could tell about their life, the “thank you” phone calls you make for a donation made to MLC….we so enjoy receiving that call, and especially when we can visit with the person calling, maybe you are calling Bingo….bringing fun in an afternoon of otherwise loneliness, sharing your time in the Library and Market for others to enjoy, you Med-City Crab Crack volunteers… there are so many tasks to make that event successful…so the proceeds can enrich the environment at MLC (drapes…Rochester Room…top floor) or provide for the Art Therapy program, and those who chose to serve on the Board of Directors and Foundation Board, your leadership supports the Vision, Mission and Core Values of MLC. This just names a few of the volunteer choices. Whatever it is that you do, it impacts and makes a difference in someone’s life. Each of you is adding to your dash, your legacy, as you give unselfishly the gift of time, the most precious resource we have.

One of my favorite stories is the story of the young boy walking the beach, and a man sees him picking something up, looking at it, and then throwing it back to the ocean. Finally, the man decided, I must ask that young man what he is doing. He comes up to the boy, and says,” I’ve been watching you and I’m wondering what it is that you are picking up and throwing back to the ocean.” “It’s starfish, sir. The tide brings them in, but if they remain on the beach, they will die…. but they survive back in the ocean.” “Oh goodness,” said the man, “there is an endless number of starfishes coming ashore….it won’t make a difference.” As the boy reached down and picked up another starfish, he threw to the ocean and said, “It makes a difference to this one.” As often as you may ask yourself, “does this really matter?” know that each moment, each second, given to a resident, makes a difference. It has been said that, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
Look at your dash……how many seconds, how many hours have you given to others, to make a difference in their life? Your legacy, will indeed, include the impact of this difference. You see, you bring your skills and experience, friendship, leadership, to MLC, but you give your time.
Quoting Dave Glynn, “Don’t ever question the value of volunteers. Noah’s Ark was built by volunteers. The Titanic was built by professionals.”

In summary, your heart that is full of grace, respecting the dignity of each resident, your unselfish gift of time to make a difference, fills your dash with a meaningful life. Once again, Thank You!