‘The Fairest of them All:’ St. Joseph Hospital honors group of longtime volunteers

Photo by LORETTA JACKSON Richard Flisak, of Nashua, is congratulated for donating 8,000 hours of his time to volunteer duties at St. Joseph Hospital, an accomplishment heralded here with flowers from Pamela Caetano, left, program coordinator for volunteer services, and Michele Canto, manager of volunteer services, who enriched the day’s theme of filling the world with sunshine as “Snow White” at the St. Joseph Hospital Volunteer Recognition Luncheon presented earlier in the week to more than 50 guests at the Courtyard by Marriott event center during National Volunteer Week, April 15-21.

Table favors of chocolates disguised as apples, bite-sized globes clad in red foil wraps with green foil stems, made it easy for more than 50 honorees to embrace the “Snow White” theme of this year’s St. Joseph Hospital Volunteer Recognition Luncheon.

The crowd gathered on Tuesday, April 17, at the Courtyard by Marriott, in Nashua, during National Volunteer Week, April 15-21. Honors, flowers, food and gifts were bestowed by St. Joe’s staffers, including a costumed Snow White – Michele Canto, manager of volunteer services.

The event’s colorful program proclaimed the recipients, “the fairest of them all,” an assessment made with no need for any mirror, mirror, on the wall.

“Today provided the opportunity to show the volunteers how much I treasure them,” said Canto. “I treasure their generosity and their ability to give back, unconditionally.”

Photo by LORETTA JACKSON Some of around 50 volunteers saluted at the St. Joseph Hospital Volunteer Recognition Luncheon held on Tuesday at the Courtyard by Marriott include Nashua residents, from left, Jean Boska, donor of 2,000 hours; Richard Flisak, contributor of 8,000 hours; Rita Clark, credited with 4,000 hours; and Denise Lantaff, who along with fellow volunteer Elena Pannell, has spent 3,000 hours in service doing a multitude of tasks ranging from ministry to participation in the mission craft group to spending shifts in the hospital’s gift shop.

An extraordinary roster of giving was documented as a tasty lunch was served, followed by limoncello cake. The tale of who did what and for how many hours, or years, was impressive. Volunteer Lucille Lockwood said that taking care of patients and assisting them is pure “happiness.”

The applause was hearty as other happy guests heard about local Bruno Bergeron, whose work for five years at the hospital’s Gray Nuns Thrift Shop, on Marshall Street, includes the marathon transport of excess clothing donations to share with bigger agencies and the similarly frequent transport of trash for disposal. His love of all his jobs was apparent in his bright smile as he was congratulated.

Spiritual caregiver Rita Clark,of Nashua, was cited for 4,000 hours as an eucharistic minister, as was local Robert Constant for his 1,000 hours in the same ministry, one bringing comfort to the bedridden and also to the ambulatory seeking peace of mind.

A boisterous Christina Crandall, who has spent 15 years of volunteer time greeting patients and answering questions at the hospital’s information desk was cheered, as was the pet therapy team of Sherrie Raymond and her dog, “Jazzy.” The pet team’s two years of visits to patients at St. Joe’s have brought endless opportunities for the ill or injured to take time focusing not on their pain but on a four-legged tail-wagger full of unconditional love.

Others with 15 years of service as of New Year’s Eve included Ronald Doucette and Mary Jane Weber. Ann Austin topped them all with recognition of her 20 years of volunteerism.

Photo by LORETTA JACKSON Pamela Caetano, left, program coordinator for volunteer services at St. Joseph Hospital, congratulates Frances Lisa, of Nashua, as the winner of the Helen Girouard Award, named for an original St. Joe’s volunteer of 1908, as Michele Canto, right, manager of volunteer services, commends the recipient for her donation of 646 hours of volunteer time – the most accrued last year by any individual.

Richard Flisak, of Nashua, was honored, along with Ann Austin, for their sharing of 8,000 hours of time in the service of those who throughout many years have needed comfort and support of varying kinds.

“I feel elated that I can do this job,” said Flisak. “I enjoy the work immensely and I wish I could do more.”

Nashuan Jean Boska’s 2,000 hours in the hospital’s Mission Craft group was saluted, as were the efforts of her fellow crafters, whose hand work last year raised some $3,547. The group’s sales of handcrafts, wreaths, crocheted jewelry and other items augmented the hospital’s Marguerite d’Youville Fund, named after the Canadian saint who founded the Order of Sisters of Charity, also known as the Gray Nuns.

Tara Collins, mission coordinator, noted that the fund assists the needy in the community. A bed for a little girl, a stove for a family’s kitchen and funds for vital prescriptions have been provided. She said it is “an honor” to work with the “Mission Craft Ladies.”

Meanwhile, a reality check was provided when the monetary value of volunteers’ work last year was described as a value of $456,080 in hourly wages. The figure represents 185 volunteers working 22,804 hours in 2017.

Overline National Volunteer Week Givers honored for service Photo by LORETTA JACKSON Honors and thanks were extended during National Volunteer Week, April 15-21, to Lucille Lockwood, of Nashua, a volunteer for more than a decade, who with nearly 50 more of her fellow volunteers from St. Joseph Hospital, a member of Covenant Health, were feted for their generosity on Tuesday, April 17, at the St. Joseph Hospital Volunteer Recognition Luncheon, an event presented at the Courtyard by Marriott in Nashua. Read more of the news about this event on Sunday and learn then about other outstanding participants including a pair of volunteers who are each credited with contributing 8,000 hours of their time to St. Joe’s. Look for the news in the Sunday Telegraph.

Pamela Caetano, program coordinator for volunteer services, drew the day to a close in remarking that the people honored that day “give endlessly” in sharing their talent, their time and their kindness.

“I see the impact every day,” Caetano said. “Everyone here is quick to share a smile – and a smile goes a long way.”