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Indiana Township volunteer lives 'paying it forward'

| Monday, March 25, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Volunteer Renee Arturo of Indiana Township at VITAS Innovative Hospice Care in O'Hara on Friday, March 15, 2013.
Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Volunteer Renee Arturo of Indiana Township at VITAS Innovative Hospice Care in O'Hara on Friday, March 15, 2013.

One could say that Renee Arturo puts the concept of “paying it forward” into action.

The Indiana Township woman is a volunteer at the Pittsburgh office of VITAS Innovative Hospice Care, which provides hospice care to those facing end-of-life issues and support for family members.

For Arturo, 65, such involvement is a natural response to what she has received.

“When you've been given a lot, you should give back,” she said. “And I've been blessed in so many ways.”

In her own life, she has seen the benefit of services like what VITAS provides.

“I have had family members that have had hospice care,” she said, “and I looked at that and I thought it was marvelous the way they treated the patients. I just decided to give back.”

Each week, she volunteers in the office, providing administrative support.

“Wherever they need help, that's where I go,” she said. “It could be something as simple as filing papers away or compiling booklets for nurses to take when they see patients.”

Her various duties include entering survey information, making up holiday baskets and “any office thing that you can think of.”

It's clear that those at VITAS are appreciative of Arturo's efforts.

VITAS General Manager Mark Katich said they are proud of the work she has done for the program.

“Her hard work and uplifting presence help our patients and their families tremendously,” he said. “We are very fortunate to have volunteers like Renee, who are passionate about making a difference with valuable contributions to hospice care.”

For Arturo, the opportunity to help is a welcome one. Though she doesn't directly interact with patients, she's glad to know that what she is doing “is helping the process to move along.”

That process can include visiting patients, providing transportation, helping them with household chores or just being a companion.

It adds up to supporting patients and caregivers.

“VITAS does a great job with that,” she said.

“I think that the volunteering gets a new face in there — helps people get through the times,” she said. “They're counseled, they feel there is someone to call that's going to be there for their loved one.”

Arturo, who works as a travel agent and at her husband's company, Alpine Pools, looks forward to more volunteer opportunities.

One that's high on her list is Meals on Wheels. As with VITAS, she is inspired to get involved as a result of seeing its service to a loved one.

Through good times and bad, she sees her own loved ones as a key motivation — especially her twin grandsons. Born premature, they're now 13 years old, and still a special inspiration.

“They inspire me to realize how blessed I am,” she said. “Even with the losses, I've made significant gains.”

Julie E. Martin is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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