HUGH PARKER (left) received one of the five prestigious awards handed out by the Respite Volunteers of Shiawassee on Nov. 14. Parker was presented with the Inspiration Award by Jackie Hurd. Hugh is a longtime Respite volunteer who has assisted the program in a number of capacities since 2006.

(Courtesy Photo)


   Respite Volunteers of Shiawassee held its Volunteer Celebration & Annual Meeting on Thursday, Nov. 14 at the Shiawassee Arts Center in Owosso. Five awards were presented during the event, and the 2019-2020 Respite Slate of Officers was also approved.

   Carol Nama presented the George Nama Community Award to DayStarr Communications. This is the second year that DayStarr has received this honor for choosing Respite Volunteers for their DayStarr Give Back day in October. This year, 20 DayStarr employees helped complete yard and home maintenance tasks at the Respite Volunteers office and three different homes of persons served by the program. Mandy Rose accepted the award, which is named in memory of the late George Nama, a Respite board member, volunteer and photographer.

   Hemenway Business Services/H&R Block was honored with the Sharon Rearick Philanthropic Award. Hemenway was an event sponsor for the 2019 Respite Golf Scramble and is sponsoring the 2020 St. Patrick’s Party. It is businesses like Hemenway Business Services that allow Respite Volunteers of Shiawassee to continue to serve families throughout Shiawassee County.

   Jackie Hurd presented the Inspiration Award to Hugh Parker, who has been a Respite volunteer since 2006. He and friends from church helped many persons with special projects, Hugh has been matched with three patients and their care-giving families, was the Respite board chair and golf scramble chair, and he helped at Respite’s milestone event, the food booth in the summer of 2009.

   The Diz Clark Respite Volunteer Church Liaison Award is in honor of Diz Clark, a past board member and ambassador for the program in its early years. Diz’s family has continued to support Respite Volunteers all these years. The award is given in recognition of the Catholic communities of St. Paul and St. Joseph for their unfailing loyalty to the Respite Volunteers’ mission of service to others. The award was presented by Pastor Debbie Grazier to the many members from the two churches who were present.

   Although she could not be at the event, Sandy Zwolensky was named the Volunteer of the Year. Sandy Zwolensky has volunteered with the program for almost 20 years and has served with passion and integrity, and she has an uplifting and compassionate attitude. Sandy has been matched with many different persons and their families over the years.

   The 2019-2020 Respite Slate of Officers includes Chair David Stechschulte Jr., Vice Chair Laura Davis, Treasurer Lori Chant and Secretary Mary Jane Scarlett. Rounding out the board is Karen Bontrager, Heather Brooks, Dick Gilna, Pastor Debbie Grazier, Kathleen Gregory, Jackie Hurd, Donna Kanan and Kathy Raines.

  The program is currently serving up to 100 patients a month throughout the county. Volunteers provide primarily friendly visiting for the person with medical challenges, and respite for the family caregivers. Many family caregivers use this opportunity to do weekly grocery shopping and errands, and attend to their own physician appointments, yard work or just having lunch out with a friend.

   Some persons and care-giving families receive services from the program for years. Some have received services for 12 years, by the same volunteer, which is a testament to the dedication of many of the program’s volunteers. This is a huge gift to the community from the volunteers. Whether a volunteer helps in the office, visits an elderly neighbor, helps a 24/7 family caregiver so they can get their grocery shopping done or shovels snow at the office, Every volunteer hour helps the program provide more services and conserve on costs.

   “The connections that our volunteers make with the families they serve is integral to the success and perpetuation of our program,” explains Respite Executive Director Helen Howard. “We all have the capacity to give a few hours of time a week and make a real and lasting difference, whether it is volunteering for patients and families, board leadership, helping with fundraisers or in the office, this all makes a difference. We all have the chance to tell our friends and family how important and rewarding this work and giving the gift of our time is. We hope that our volunteers will continue to share the enormous impact we can make together with Respite Volunteers.”

   Additional volunteers are needed throughout the county, and the next Respite volunteer workshop is planned for Wednesday, Dec. 4 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Respite Volunteers office, 710 W. King St., Owosso.

   For more information about services provided, volunteer opportunities or donations, call (989) 725-1127, visit or search for “Respite Volunteers of Shiawassee” on social media.

Respite Celebrates Another Successful Year was last modified: November 25th, 2019 by Karen Elford