United Hospital Fund Honors 86 Hospital Volunteers, Recognizing Their Many Invaluable Contributions

Special Guest Cheryl Wills, NY1 Anchor, Helps Pay Tribute to the Volunteers and Auxilians Honored at the March 15 Ceremony;<br>Duane Reade/Walgreens Provides Underwriting Support

Release Date: 03.15.2013
Contact: rdeluna@uhfnyc.org
Contact Phone: 212 494 0733

The United Hospital Fund hosted its 20th annual Hospital Auxilian and Volunteer Achievement Awards ceremony today at the Waldorf-Astoria, honoring 86 volunteers and auxilians who provide exceptional service to hospitals throughout the five boroughs of New York City. Cheryl Wills, anchor/reporter of NY1 News, was the special guest at the event, which drew more than 700 attendees in the hotel’s Grand Ballroom.

The honorees were chosen from among New York City’s tens of thousands of health care volunteers. Their collective portrait reflects remarkable diversity. They come from all walks of life—computer programmers and finance executives; college students; retired teachers, nurses, and social workers; and parents and grandparents. Ranging in age from their 20s to their 90s, they have provided, on average, more than ten years of volunteer service. Some are themselves former patients who are particularly attuned to patients’ needs. Together, they serve in virtually every hospital setting, from the emergency room to the gift shop, from the pharmacy to the fundraising department, and from pediatrics to geriatrics.

“Recognizing and paying tribute to exemplary volunteers and all the work they do is a natural fit for the United Hospital Fund since it was volunteer leaders who founded our organization over 130 years ago,” said James R. Tallon, Jr., president of the United Hospital Fund.  “While the volunteers we are honoring show remarkable diversity, they all share a commitment to giving their time, unselfishly, to improve health care and the lives of patients and their families.”

The Hospital Auxilian and Volunteer Achievement Awards ceremony was generously supported in part by Duane Reade/Walgreens, reflecting a commitment to keeping the people of New York healthy.  Jeff Koziel, market vice president for Duane Reade, welcomed the guests and thanked the honorees for their efforts and all the work they do.

Serving as special guest at the event was Cheryl Wills, anchor/reporter of NY1 News. While she may be best known for her work as anchor and, before that, health care reporter for seven years—she has been with NY1 News since its launch in 1992—Ms. Wills has volunteered to host dozens of charity and community service events for a variety of nonprofit organizations, including hospitals, colleges, and libraries—a reflection of her belief in the importance of community service and giving back to the community.

The honored volunteers provide a wealth of inspiring stories, including the following:

  • Minnette Brownlowe (North Central Bronx Hospital)—who, better known as Grandma Minnie to the children she serves, is adding to her 12,000 hours of volunteer work, even in her 90th year—watches over and provides educational activities to children whose parents are attending nutrition classes.
  • Kathleen Hale (NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital’s Weill Cornell Medical Center), recognizing an opportunity to expand support for family caregivers following her personal experience, created the Comfort Zone to offer caregivers relaxation programs, reference materials, and opportunities to speak with trained volunteers.
  • Herb Roberts (Kings County Hospital Center), after 30 years of employment at the hospital, now assists in many fundraising events, including dances and plant sales.
  • Katherine Cappetta (North Shore LIJ’s Staten Island University Hospital)—who usually volunteers as an information desk receptionist and visitor escort—stepped in to help in the hospital’s store following Hurricane Sandy, filling in for employees who were severely affected.
  • Blenda Joseph (Harlem Hospital) took the initiative and found a low-cost gym in the area when the clinic for HIV-positive patients she leads lacked funding for the exercise program.
  • Diane Albano-Keller and Blaine Keller (Hospital for Special Surgery), a married couple, started volunteering as busy professionals and continue in their retirement—always coming to and leaving the hospital together, their volunteering deepening their bond.
  • Delores Celentano (Richmond University Hospital) has helped decorate the hospital lobby, taken part in fundraising, and sold raffles for different functions.
  • Matti Berkowitz and Laya Leshkowitz (Maimonides Medical Center) co-lead the volunteer doula program they helped create 17 years ago, providing mothers-to-be with labor advice, relaxation techniques, and natural pain management during labor.
  • Manuel Shepherd (Montefiore Medical Center) greets people at the main entrance and helps transport patients and visitors in need of assistance, making sure everyone feels “extra special.”
  • Vivian Horowitz (Long Island Jewish Medical Center) leads a “Look Good Feel Better” program, through which patients undergoing cancer treatments meet with a cosmetologist and learn hands-on beauty techniques to help lift their spirits.
  • Angelika Nazon (Flushing Hospital Medical Center), whose smile is described as the “best medicine” for pediatric patients and staff members alike, continues to volunteer in the outpatient clinic where she started during her undergraduate studies, even though she has since graduated.
  • Harvey Brice (Mount Sinai Medical Center) became the model for a group of volunteers now numbering 16 because of his warm, compassionate approach to assisting patients undergoing treatment for cancer.

    The United Hospital Fund’s Hospital Auxilian and Volunteer Achievement Awards are part of the Fund’s broad efforts to mobilize the energies of volunteers, recognize volunteer achievements, and open new avenues for volunteer involvement in health care.

    About United Hospital Fund
    : United Hospital Fund is a health services research and philanthropic organization whose mission is to shape positive change in health care for the people of New York.

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