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Mt. Pleasant's Excela Frick Hospital honors its volunteers

Marilyn Forbes | For The Independent-Observer
Rod and Jean Cavanaugh of Scottdale were recognized for their 7,000 volunteer hours each at Frick Hospital. Rod Cavanaugh affixes the special pin to his wife Jean’s shirt.

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Friday, April 26, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Many organizations and facilities say that their dedicated volunteers are the backbone of their operation. Excela Health Frick Hospital in Mt. Pleasant is no exception.

The hospital held its annual Volunteer Awards lunch and program, honoring dozens of volunteers for the countless hours that they dedicate to the hospital.

“This is a celebration of their service,” Lifeline and Volunteer Services manager Ellen Katter said of the recent event. “All of our volunteers are very important to us.”

The event recognized 43 volunteers whose service hours spanned from 100 to 19,500.

“I will be volunteering 27 years this April,” Michelle Czekaj of Mt. Pleasant said. “I really like helping people and I enjoy working as a volunteer.”

Czekaj has racked up 19,500 hours at the facility.

“I volunteer in the coffee shop five days a week,” Czekaj said, adding that she usually works about 30 hours every week.

Rod and Jean Cavanaugh of Scottdale were also among those recognized, with the couple completing 7,000 hours each as volunteers at Frick.

“We started back in 2000,” Rod Cavanaugh said. “I was bored after I retired and I was looking for something to do.”

One very special volunteer was recognized — Belle the service and therapy dog, who is part of the new Pet Greeter Program at the hospital. Belle was at the event with handler and owner Becky Pekar.

“We just started,” Pekar said of the pet-therapy and greeter service she, Belle and other service dogs are performing at the facility. “I was a nurse for 14 years, so it's great to be back.”

Each volunteer received a special pin and Excela tote bag, along with a catered lunch at the Pleasant Valley Country Club in Bullskin Township.

“Regardless of your length of service, it is clear you hold certain ideals in common with other volunteers and exhibit the teamwork necessary to deliver on our promise to improve the health and well-being of every life we touch,” Excela Health CEO Bob Rogalski said to the honorees. “Your compassion and perseverance produce tangible results each day as you help to meet the needs of family, friends, neighbors and all those who call our service home. Without each of you working in concert, we would not be able to create a memorable patient experience. ”

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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