Donna West Memorial Volunteer Award recipients
1993 — Leah Siegel and Ruth Rice
1994 — Carolyn McCoy and Kay Burcar
1995 — Jake Davis and Pat McHale
1996 — Iris Diamond and Sandy Tivin
1997 — Sandra W. Heimann and Ruth E. Horney
1998 — Janet H. Ach and Robert A. Glassmeyer
1999 — Connie Miller and Deborah Hauenstein
2000 — Trina Liss and Jean Lucas
2001 — Lyle Everingham and Ileen Gault
2002 — Steve Duff and Wendy Laughlin
2003 — Sandy Arsenault and Doug Lindsay
2004 — James E. Hoff and S.J. Elizabeth Hils
2005 — Cammy Dierking and Ann Housley
2006 — Debbie Dalton, Marty Bockhold, Katy Leitch, Linda Creach-Bley and Karen Mulcahey
2007 — Dick Adams, Fred Kleiser, Cristy Scherer, Mary Robinson and Franchot Ballinger
2008 — Edwin Goldstein, Shari Brooks, Frank Eberle, Betty Shiflet and Mary O’Brien
2009 — William S. Doherty, Gene Rihm, Candi Rinderle, Dotty Hischemiller and Patty Dattilo
2010 — Dr. David Wiltse, Jim Bellew, Karen Schwab, Mike Wolf and Jan Smith
2011 — Grady Davis, Wanda Owens, Maureen Heekin, Karol Wolf and Jim Telcher
2012 — Albert Schneider
Millville resident Al Schneider has been recognized by Hospice of Hamilton as the 2012 winner of the Donna West Award for volunteerism.
Schneider has been volunteering at Hospice of Hamilton for about 3½ years, he said.
When he retired from Macy’s department store, a fellow parishioner from Queen of Peace Church enlisted him to help perform the Eucharist at Fort Hamilton Hospital.
“I would go past here every time I went to the hospital and wondered if anyone was performing Communion here,” he said.
So one day he stopped in and asked, and suddenly became one of about 80 hospice volunteers, who cumulatively log about 38,500 hours a year, according to Jenny Oldham, volunteer coordinator.
Schneider comes in once or twice a week, not only performing the Eucharist with Catholic patients, but also spending time as a “companionship volunteer.”
“Al never met a stranger,” Oldham said. “People come up to him out in the community, give him a big hug and thank him for the work he’s doing.”
“He’s an awesome ambassador for us,” she said.
Schneider said that he and other volunteers joke that they’ll never get a pay raise, but there are rewards that go beyond money.
“I love people,” he said, “and I don’t have to talk to them about their medical situation, but about their families and jobs.
“Sometimes, they can’t communicate well, but if they give me a thumbs up or something, that’s the reason I do it,” he said. “If I can put a smile on the face of someone who doesn’t really have a reason to smile, that’s fulfilling.”
Oldham said that the Donna West Award, named after a former Hospice of Cincinnati patient, has been given out for 20 years to honor Hospice’s volunteer force. The selection is made through nominations and voting by the Hospice staff and other volunteers.
“Al came in here and hit the ground running,” Oldham said.
In addition to spending time with patients, volunteers do everything from helping run the front desk to folding linens and filling water glasses.
“Some of our volunteers work with home care patients, giving respite to caregivers so they can go out to lunch or get a hair cut,” Oldham said.
“For our patients in nursing homes, they can simply be a friendly visitor for someone, taking them outside for a ride in the wheelchair,” she said. “For a lot of them, our volunteers can be the only visitors they ever get.”