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Jefferson Regional volunteers downplay individual achievements

| Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Thresa Yerman of Whitehall and Richard Bower of Baldwin were presented with the President’s Volunteer Service Award at Jefferson Hospital’s National Volunteer Week recognition program and luncheon April 9 at South Hills County Club. Louise Urban, executive vice president and COO at the hospital, offered her congratulations to these exemplary volunteers.

A tap on her shoulder years ago set a new direction for Thresa Yerman of Whitehall.

At her church, St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin, a friend suggested she become a Eucharistic minister.

Now, 25 years later, Yerman, 85, has been honored for bringing her ministry to Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Jefferson Hills and sharing 4,045 hours with the sick.

Also among the 300 volunteers honored at the April 9 luncheon at South Hills Country Club was Dick Bower of Baldwin, donated 4,015 hours over the last 20 years. In 2013, the volunteers contributed 41,991 hours.

Yerman and Bower earned the President's Volunteer Service Award, which recognized their contributions of time and talent.

Having worked as a nurse, another hospital was a natural place for Yerman to extend herself after she retired. She chose the fourth floor at the hospital to deliver Communion and offer prayers on Sunday mornings. Often, she said, the patients' visitors join in the devotion.

Yerman also volunteers with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust at the Byham Theater, where she greeted audiences for 70 performances last year. She said she hopes to stay with the hospital for another three or four years.

It's taken her some time, but she finally persuaded her husband to join her as a hospital volunteer. Their three children were proud of her accomplishment, although Yerman didn't believe the tally of her volunteer time.

“I almost told them, ‘You made a mistake,'” she said.

Bower first volunteered at Jefferson as an escort, then in the surgical center and finally at the information desk in the main lobby.

“He's quite a people person,” said Phyllis Boykin, director of customer and volunteer services at the hospital. “He makes a good first impression.”

Bower, 85, enjoys the contact with the patients that he had at the surgical center.

He took an early retirement at 57 from the Baldwin-Whitehall School District, where he taught physical education at the junior-high level for 32 years.

“I wanted to do something,” he said, “but I wasn't interested in the money.”

Jefferson was a good place to start. He hopes to continue for years to come, giving four hours every week. There's time enough to enjoy his three children, four grandchildren and three “grand-dogs,” he said.

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or

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