Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Samaritan honors volunteers at 2022 gala

Celebration includes dining raffle and online auction.

Special to The Sun: Donna Fahey, director of the Institute for Education, Research and Innovation at Samaritan, visits with therapy dogs Stanley, Tiberius and Gus. The animals have visited Samaritan staff during COVID.

Samaritan, founded in Moorestown, is a nonprofit health-care organization that provides hospice care, palliative medicine and at-home primary care to families in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Mercer and Gloucester counties.

Special services include grief support and counseling, but without Samaritan’s 500 volunteers, not much would be possible. Sally Cezo, director of Volunteer Services, has been with Samaritan for more than 18 years.

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At Samaritan, she explained, volunteers have responsibilities that include helping patients with tasks and providing emotional support.

“They are the cornerstone of Samaritan,” Cezo said.

Samaritan will hold a Celebration of Life Gala on Feb. 12 called “Above and Beyond,” that will celebrate more than 40 years of providing quality care to more than 11,000 families and also recognize its volunteers. Samaritan will also announce its 2022 Circle of Excellence award recipients, individuals and organizations who are dedicated to Samaritan.

Chief Development Officer Chris Rollins explained that the award honorees are people who also support communities at large. The gala will include a dining raffle and online auction and for the second year, it will be virtual, something that has a benefit, according to Rollins.

“It worked out quite well because it’s been a wonderful opportunity for us to recognize two pretty important groups,” he explained. “Last year, it was our staff, which were front-line heroes in the face of the pandemic, and we congratulated them for the tremendous work that they continue to do.”

Of volunteers, Rollins said, “They perform every imaginable role here.”

“I’ll talk about the volunteers and all of the things that they do,” he noted. 

Board members and Samaritan CEO Mary Ann Boccolini will make speeches.

Volunteers haven’t let COVID ruin their relationships with patients.

“They would continue with phone calls, just to keep that connection,” said Cezo.

“They’re here because it really matters to them,” Rollins said.

Although Rollins believes it is difficult to foster and build new relationships virtually, he explained that Samaritan continues to serve its patients despite COVID.

“We look forward to continuing in whatever way we have to, providing this care to more folks, because we are keenly aware, pandemic or not, that so many families don’t take advantage of palliative care and hospice care.”

For more information about the gala, visit Samaritan Celebration of Life Hospice Gala (samaritannj.org).

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