Three Senior Companions receive Gil Sablack Volunteer of the Year Awards

GLADSTONE – The Senior Companion Program of Menominee, Delta, and Schoolcraft Counties recently celebrated 30 years of service to the community and paid tribute to the program’s volunteers during a recognition banquet held at the Terrace Bay Inn in Gladstone. Fifty-two volunteers were honored.

Three individuals – one each from Delta, Schoolcraft, and Menominee Counties – were singled out with special tribute as recipients of the 2013 Gil Sablack Volunteer of the Year Award. They are Patricia “Pat” Boyington (Delta), Nancy Zellner (Schoolcraft) and John Berge (Menominee).

Boyington has been a Senior Companion for three years and volunteers at Lakeview Assisted Living in Gladstone and also visits clients in their homes.

“Pat’s quality of volunteering is exceptional,” said her supervisor, Daryl Miron. “She is very caring and compassionate, very conscientious and dependable. The impact of those Pat has helped has been truly wonderful. Our residents feel a true sense of friendship, love and caring from Pat. She gives from hr heart and it is easy to see how much our residents care about her when she walks through the door and they light up with a big smile.”

Miron also commented on Boyington’s ability to help a patient who is impatient or irritable, due to their physical and emotional difficulties. “Pat can recognize this and has taken the initiative to handle these situations in a very calming, caring way,” Miron added. “She always treats them with the dignity and patience they deserve. When I grow old and am unable to care for myself, I hope I have someone as wonderful as Pat to be around me and to help me.”

Selected from Schoolcraft County was Nancy Zellner. She has been a Senior Companion for 15 years and volunteers at Hiawatha Behavioral Health/Options and the homes of individuals. Zellner’s interaction with the customers is considered to be one of her best qualities.

“We have a hugh age span and abilities and Nancy’s ability to adjust to this is great,” said her supervisor, Ann Londo. “Her patience with all consumers and staff is a special quality. A lot of our consumers never had an elder family member and to most, Nancy has become this to them.”

Zellner was also praised for her ability to adjust to the daily obstacles that are part of her interaction with the staff.

“When Nancy arrives at her site, she is greeted daily with a standing ovation by consumers,” said Londo. “She is a very special part of our program and team, and hopefully she will be with us for many more years.”

Three-year volunteer John Berge is the selection from Menominee County. He volunteers at Heartland Manor, The Harbors and in individual homes.

Citing the reasons for Berge’s nomination, he was lauded as an outstanding example of the wonderful program and demonstrates all the qualities an exceptional volunteer possesses.

“Everyone who’s life John touches has been enriched by it,” his nomination read. “When John joined the site, the residents were a little leery when they met a big, burly, clear-voiced guy, but they have definitely warmed up to him and they miss him so much if he doesn’t come.”

Described as a “chameleon,” Berge fits in anywhere.

“All of our residents love him,” the citation continued. “Bingo is his forte and you really have to be there to see what a fund time it is. When John first started coming, we could barely get a table filled to play bingo. Now, the townhall is crowded with people hootin’ and hollerin’. He brings tomatoes from his garden as prizes. He is totally compassionate and fun.”