by Allen Heinly, Vice President of Human Resources
Change is coming to the Volunteer Services department. Since November 2004, Sue Shirk has guided this important work as Director of Volunteer Services. She is planning to retire in June of this year.
The scale of volunteers who enhance services at Landis Homes is impressive. In the past fiscal year, there were nearly 430 volunteers who served, with more than 310 of them being resident volunteers. During Sue’s time at Landis Homes, she gave oversight to recruitment and coordination of volunteers through a number of important changes and new initiatives. One change was in the growth of the campus. During this time, resident numbers increased from 600 to more than 800. The all-volunteer mail team of approximately 75 volunteers transitioned to become a combination of paid staff and volunteers, and the all-volunteer bus driver team shifted to paid staff.
Another new effort was the development of the Star Comforter program. Star Comforter volunteers provide calming and supportive end of-life companionship to residents until family can arrive, or as a brief respite for the family who are there. Small comforters, knotted by residents and team members in personal care and healthcare households, are displayed at the resident’s room door for a few days following a death, as a way to honor their life and offer comfort to former neighbors and staff caregivers. This program won a LeadingAge PA award for Volunteer Group in 2007 and has served over 100 residents and their family members.
We wish Sue the best in her retirement. Soon she will have more time to watch her beloved Philadelphia Flyers hockey team and travel. She will still be seen at Landis Homes since she recently moved into a cottage on campus. We are grateful for all of Sue’s time and attention that has been a great benefit and support to both the residents and the volunteers.