VA Butler Healthcare honors pair with newly created Volunteers of the Year awards
Dave Cavanaugh loves to tell jokes, and his wit has captivated veterans at VA Butler Healthcare.
“It makes me feel good to make them feel good, and they do enjoy the jokes,” he said.
“With what they've done for us, it's the least we can do.”
Cavanaugh, 66, of Butler and Betty Slaugenhaupt, 87, of Saxonburg were named 2014 Volunteers of the Year at VA Butler Healthcare.
They were honored in a ceremony April 11 for exemplifying the spirit of volunteerism, leading by example and positively impacting the lives of veterans.
This is the first year for the award, which the health system would like to make an annual honor.
Cavanaugh, an Air Force veteran who served from 1965-70, has volunteered for eight years in the escort program, recreation and special events and activities.
He has racked up 2,199 hours of service, said VA Butler Healthcare volunteer coordinator Paula McCarl.
Although he technically volunteers as an escort, shuttling patients to and from appointments and activities, Cavanaugh said, he makes time every day he volunteers to visit the veterans in the community living center.
“I sit and listen to them, tell them my bad jokes, just to give them some companionship and get rid of that lonely feeling,” he said. “I probably get more out of it than they do, but the pay is great.”
Slaugenhaupt, the wife of a veteran, has volunteered for 25 years in the escort program and more recently as a dispatcher.
She has accumulated 9,169 hours of service, McCarl said.
“I thought it was wonderful, but I was shocked,” Slaugenhaupt said of receiving the award. “I didn't expect to be nominated. There's a lot of people there working that deserve it more than me.”
McCarl described Slaugenhaupt as a wonderful person who is extremely dedicated, giving and fun.
What McCarl said she admires most about her is her dependability.
“I know on Mondays and Fridays, unless there's something severely wrong or she tells me in advance, she's going to be there,” McCarl said.
“That's one thing about Betty I admire. She's always there, always friendly and always willing to help out.”
Slaugenhaupt got her start in volunteering after she retired from Du-Co Ceramics in Saxonburg.
She was drawn to the VA because she had three brothers fight in World War II and two of her brothers fought in Korea.
“I was in a hospital one time, and I saw how people come around and help you, so I told myself when I was retired I would do that,” she said.
Slaugenhaupt, who has a daughter and three grandsons in the area, said she plans to continue volunteering as long as she's able to drive.
Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at 724-779-6902 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.