Published on August 1, 2017
Saturday, July 15, was a day set aside for volunteers at Phoebe Berks. More than 150 of the community’s 300 volunteers—which includes independent living residents, and adult and junior volunteers from the surrounding neighborhoods—attended a recognition event in their honor, with door prizes, buffet lunch, entertainment, and special words of thanks from staff and leadership at Phoebe Berks.
“They’re heroes,” said Heather Cox, volunteer coordinator at Phoebe Berks, “and they’re not always recognized or noticed and they need to be recognized.”
When Cox took up her position as volunteer coordinator there were around 120-140 volunteers. In a few years that number more than doubled. “There’s always something to do!” she says jovially. Volunteers are everywhere, from the laundry in the health care center to the dining room in the Phoebe Berks Village community center, to the library, to washing dishes somewhere. “There is no part of the campus they don’t touch,” says Cox.
The theme of the recognition event was “Volunteers are Superheroes,” and Cox and another cohort donned special t-shirts with capes for the day. Planning begins almost a year in advance for this event, and Cox pulls out all the stops. One of the most prominent features was the collection of donated door prizes. Her goal is to have something for at least half of the attendees to take home. In keeping with the selfless spirit of the volunteers, Cox says she has repeatedly witnessed recipients of prizes—which are awarded in a loose raffle system with tickets—giving up prizes or passing them to junior volunteers.
Donations come from businesses both local and further afield: Classic Harley Davidson; Daniel Boone Homestead; Dunkin’ Donuts; Giant Food Stores; Phantom’s Hockey; QVC Studios; Reading Fightin’ Phils; Reading Public Museum; Shady Maple; Wawa; Wheel of Fortune; and many others donate items. Cox plans to start calling for donations even earlier next year and pull in some names like the Philadelphia Eagles and the WWF.
But the real spirit of the event is the sense of community and appreciation for all volunteers. Cox says staff at Phoebe Berks, especially the front desk receptionists, all chipped in to help with the event to show their appreciation. And try as she might to keep volunteers from helping with their own event, Cox says she had groups of them coming up to her for months insisting on lending a hand, anything from shopping with her for door prizes to folding programs. “Anything I’d ask them to do, they were there,” she say. “They’re all caretakers. They can’t help themselves.”
Cox also coordinated and played a ten-minute video including photos of staff and leadership from across Phoebe’s four communities holding up their own thank-you signs as a further token of appreciation.
“I hope you know you are truly loved and admired and you are our heroes,” Cox said to her volunteers. “They are amazing people.”
If you would like to become a volunteer at Phoebe Berks, contact Heather Cox at 610-927-8514 or [email protected].