In 2006, nursing assistant Deb Boyer expressed the idea for a team of volunteers that would ensure residents in the healthcare center would have companionship at the end of life. Thus, the Star Comforter program began, using a name inspired by John 14:18, in which Jesus says, “I will not leave you comfortless.”
Star Comforter volunteers provide a calming and supportive presence by sitting with a resident in their last days until family can arrive, or by offering a brief respite for the family.
Residents and team members created several actual comforters, to be displayed near a resident’s room for several days following a death. Over the past dozen years, many residents and their family members have benefitted from the services of Star Comforters.
Over that time, the original four comforters experienced wear and tear, so team members found a way, in 2019, to have replacements made. A community member, Mary Ellen Yesse, donated all of the materials. Four additional persons, made up of community and resident volunteers, put the new comforters together and knotted them. Each comforter has a unique two-star design. There was even enough material left over to make one more comforter using the original design.
Director of Pastoral Services, Donna Mack Shenk, shared the sentiments of a family member who benefitted from this program, which she said she heard from others as well:
“My husband was comforted to have someone with him when I couldn’t be there. I was able to rest and be at peace because I knew he was not alone. It truly was a comforting experience and I was so thankful for the presence of the Star Comforters.”