Published on August 10, 2018
Harriet “Midge” Coker, who volunteers at the Phoebe Allentown Health Care Center, recently received a Distinguished Service Award from LeadingAge PA, a state association of nonprofit senior services. Coker is the recipient of the LeadingAge PA 2018 Volunteer of the Year award and was chosen for her 30 years of exceptional service to the organization. Her attention to detail, willingness to carry out the most difficult of projects with ease, friendly attitude, and brilliant organizational skills have made her invaluable to Phoebe’s Allentown community.
“We wanted to take this opportunity to thank Midge and recognize her for the valuable volunteer services rendered over the past 30 years at Phoebe,” comments Sue Schlener, Executive Director, Phoebe Allentown. “We are really proud of her and appreciate her hard work. Her spirit to offer selfless service to others makes Midge a star volunteer.”
One example of Midge’s immense contributions? With the changes implemented under Midge’s leadership, the health care center’s basket social event grew through donations from new businesses and improvements in the ticketing system that resulted in additional sales. It now raises over $10,000 each year!
The award was presented to Coker during a gala at the June 2018 LeadingAge PA Annual Conference entitled “Life on Purpose” in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
A few showers didn’t hold back revelers at the Friends of Phoebe Community Day on July 22 at Phoebe Berks. More than 200 people came to share in music and carnival games at the second annual Community Day, which brings together residents of Phoebe Berks with their family members as well as outside community members. The Phoebe Phive, a band of Phoebe Berks Village residents, provided live music along with a real live Elvis impersonator. Other family-centered entertainment included a petting zoo, a bounce house, a photo booth, face painting, and balloon animals. The Skyline Drive Corvettes Club from Reading, Pennsylvania were also present, showcasing a row of gleaming corvettes. The event also featured local vendors selling handmade pottery and glass ornaments, candles, terrariums, and other goods.
Community Day is provided as a free event to the public, but donations are taken to support initiatives in the Phoebe Berks Health Care Center.
Read about Community Day at The Reading Eagle!
There is a special group of volunteers at Phoebe trained in a unique and sacred responsibility. They perform a ministry of comfort for residents in the final hours of life. Founded at Phoebe Allentown in the late 1990s and at Phoebe Berks in the early 2000s, the Abiders program is now flourishing with nearly 40 volunteers under the guidance of the Rev. Leah Knox, chaplain at Phoebe Berks.
Vigils are arranged by one of Phoebe’s chaplains or an Abider coordinator when the need arises. Volunteers spend the time reading scripture or poetry, offering prayer, playing music, holding the resident’s hand, or simply being present. Volunteers are trained in three intensive sessions that explore the process of dying and offer an introspective look at mortality. Many volunteers are part of Phoebe’s independent living communities, and are often engaged in other community volunteer activities.
The Abiders were recognized by Lehigh Valley Business in the June 25 issue as 2018 Healthcare Heroes. This award recognizes individuals and organizations that have displayed heroic actions in the field of health care throughout the Greater Lehigh Valley.
Ronnie Backenstoe, who lives in a cottage at Phoebe Berks Village, recently received an honorary degree from Cedar Crest College in recognition of her dedication to the college’s mission of women’s education and leadership. Backenstoe has been a Girl Scout for 87 years and a troop leader since 1940; though she enrolled in night classes at Cedar Crest she was unable to complete her degree.