Volunteers get patients in harmony with season
An octet of singers broke out in "Jingle Bell Rock" Tuesday at Allegheny General Hospital Suburban Campus in Bellevue. One of them, 66-year-old Patricia Pacey, started dancing with licensed practical nurse Alma Yarborough.
"They make Christmas beautiful," said Yarborough, 54, of Stanton Heights. "It makes the patients feel better. It's good to have volunteers like them."
The singers, most wearing Santa hats and white Silver Sneakers T-shirts, popped into several hospital rooms, strolled the hallways and visited the cafeteria, spreading musical holiday cheer to all.
Among the patients they visited was Colt Zdobinski, 5, of Bellevue, who shyly shook sleigh bells on the lap of his mother, Wendy, during a rendition of "O Holy Night."
"I liked them," Colt said.
"I thought that was a real nice surprise," his mother said. "It was a real nice break from the doctors."
"Being sick is unpleasant," said Dr. John Uribe, who stopped in the hospital hallway to listen to the carolers. "Our patients need all the support we can give them. ... When you get people to raise their hopes, this is part of the healing process."
The volunteers include about 15 people who sing at Christmas, Fourth of July, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Mother's Day and other events. They began about three years ago in what Kathy Ferri, hospital manager of community relations and volunteer services, calls "a truly beautiful circle."
The hospital conducts monthly healthy living programs at the Prime Time Senior Center on Lincoln Avenue in Bellevue. Pacey leads yoga stretch and exercise classes at the center for the Silver Sneakers exercise group. Ferri, who accompanies hospital doctors to the center, mentioned several years ago that a school group was going to sing carols at the hospital, and she would like to see more caroling.
Pacey said, "Oh, let us pay back. We'll come and we'll sing."
During Tuesday's caroling, they combined religious hymns with secular standards like "Winter Wonderland" and even military songs for hospitalized veterans.
Some of the group's members, like Peggy Funk, 78, of Bellevue, had voice training and belonged to choirs their entire lives. Sally Malenky, 74, of Avalon sang alto for years in the choir at Assumption Catholic Church in Bellevue.
"I enjoy singing. I think some of the patients enjoy it too," said Judy Szymborski of Avalon. "It lifts them up a little."
Pat Mogus of Avalon worked in the office of the Pittsburgh Opera until four years ago. Though her job was in accounting, she is a longtime opera lover who once had a small onstage role.
"I just love to sing. It's so satisfying to me," Mogus said. "Sometimes I cry a little when I see some of the patients."
Though he was in a hospital bed, Charles Boyle, 78, of Mechanicsburg grinned from ear to ear as he listened to "Silent Night." Boyle wasn't expecting carolers; still, he said, "I'm glad they're here."
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.
- Starkey: Tomlin lived in his fears
- Founder of Z&M Cycle Sales in Hempfield killed in Florida motorcycle crash
- W.V. entrepreneurs offer hope as coal fades as economic engine
- Slain St. Clair officer walked into ‘worst nightmare’ for police
- Ex-recreation director settles age discrimination lawsuit against Pittsburgh
- Mentor takes young Brackenridge hunter under his wing
- 7 percent in Allegheny County allowed to carry concealed gun
- Field conditions could play factor for Clairton in PIAA quarterfinals
- Penguins’ reshuffled top line of Crosby, Dupuis, Kunitz looks familiar
- 2,200 union employees of ATI lose coverage
- Increasing player salaries pinch financial flexibility of Pirates