Recent events have shaken our world, but that doesn’t change an important fact – “One person can make a difference.” This was the theme of this year’s recognition dinner for Mount Nittany Health’s Volunteer Resources Department, which was held on April 24. The dinner honored over 811 volunteers who had collectively contributed 67,549 hours.
“Each person makes a unique contribution at the Medical Center, whether it is through making craft projects, or preparing mailings, or by providing direct patient assistance and care. We value each and every hour of service,” said Vickie Morgan, director of volunteer resources.
Honoring the Volunteer of the Year – nominations for which are submitted at the departmental level throughout the Medical Center – was a highlight of the evening. Lowie Kerns of State College was recognized for her 4,650 hours of service. She began volunteering in 2001, starting in the surgical waiting room, and has been volunteering in the ultrasound waiting room most recently.
“Lowie gets along with everyone, is kind to everyone she interacts with, and effortlessly makes people’s lives more comfortable and their day better because of her sincere and friendly demeanor,” said Morgan.
“I truly look forward to coming to the hospital every week where I have met so many wonderful people. I love to help people!” said Kerns.
Additionally, Teen Volunteer Scholarships were awarded to high school students who have volunteered at Mount Nittany Medical Center and exhibited a desire to become doctors, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists or physical therapists, or to serve in other medical professions.
Saad Ahmad, with 204 hours to date, started volunteering in 2010. He will major in biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State. Asked what he learned from his volunteer experience, Ahmad said, “The biggest things I have learned are discipline, respect, and to remember that we are all one human race, and we should respect each other’s values to progress in the world.”
Nikhil Ananth, with 403 hours to date, volunteers in the emergency department and on patient floors. He will be studying at the University of Pennsylvania to earn a dual degree in biology and economics. In addition, Ananth, an Eagle Scout, recently completed a concrete paver walkway project in Homestead Park.
“Volunteering at Mount Nittany Medical Center has provided me with countless experiences that a textbook could not possibly teach me,” said Elizabeth Ishler, with 290 hours to date on patient floors. She plans to become a physician assistant in oncology.
Akhil Upneja, with 200 hours to date, plans to attend Yale University and study bioengineering. Upneja also has the distinction of ranking first in his class of 600 at State College Area High School. His time as a volunteer was spent on patient floors.
Mei Yang, with 282 hours to date, volunteers in the gift shop. She will attend Cornell University and major in biomedical engineering. In addition to her work at Mount Nittany Medical Center, Yang has volunteered at the Hearthside Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.
“While the recognition dinner is our big annual event, we also try hard to recognize our volunteers on an ongoing basis in thoughtful ways throughout the year – for instance with e-birthday cards, special messages of thanks on their computers, and so on,” Morgan said. “Every single act of volunteerism is important, and we would not be able to accomplish the wonderful things we do here without the generous spirit of each and every person who contributes time and effort to making Mount Nittany Health the best it can be.”