The America that I love

sunrise,
Rural Sunrise.

By Bruce Stambaugh

I’m grateful to have been born in the United States. I realize that’s an easy statement for me to make given my lineage and geographic life space.

It’s taken me a while to recognize my absolute privilege as a natural born Caucasian American male citizen. Coming of age in the turbulent civil rights era of the 1960s, I should have caught on much earlier.

I couldn’t help but follow the progress of those volatile days. All earned headlines in newspapers, and plenty of airtime on the evening news. Long before the Internet or smartphones, that’s how we kept up to date with ongoing daily events.

There was plenty to absorb. Times were tense. The Cuban missile crisis, persistent protests for civil and equal rights for minorities and women, anti-war protests, urban riots, and assassinations are all indelibly etched in my psyche.

Given today’s political rancor, I’m appalled at the actions and comments of others toward the poor, minorities of every kind, and the down-and-out of today’s global society. It’s like everything is coming undone. I struggle with what to do, what to say, how to act.

My parents instilled in their children a sense of fairness, justice, and equality for all. I think that came from their knowledge of previous generations of hard work, personal experience with injustice, and an absolute desire to ensure their offspring had a better life than they did.

work ethic, Amish gathering hay
Work ethic in action.
In that, my good folks more than succeeded. They instilled in us a strong work ethic, a desire to serve, the importance of community, and the need to connect with others.

I think my devoted wife can say the same about her upbringing on her family farm. Those core values have been the foundation of our 45 years together, cemented by a love that has survived and evolved through the joys and heartaches that life lays out for each and every one of us.

Unfortunately, others in this diverse nation are not so fortunate, if only because of their race, religion, economic situation, or demographic roots. For a variety of legitimate reasons, they rest uneasily in our society.

I yearn for the day when I can erase those words. In the meantime, I see the anniversary of the independence of our great nation as a reminder to continue to help wherever and whenever I can.

As a thankful American, I see that goal as my continued responsibility. Whether through words or actions or donations or genuinely associating with others beyond my comfort zone, I must do what I can to help within my grasp and power however limited that may be.

I must linger with the poor, the destitute, and the powerless. I must listen to their cries, their calls for justice, and their desire to fulfill their basic needs.

I must learn from those who have so much less than me. They have much to teach me, to help me grow, to help me understand, to help me live.

As Americans on this pinnacle national holiday, we need to linger with one another, listen to one another, and learn from one another. Doing so is for the common good of us all.

Shouldn’t it be the goal for all of us to improve responsibly the country we all love so much? After all, the Pledge of Allegiance ends, “…with liberty and justice for all.” Can’t we all help make it so?

sunset
Rural sunset.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2016

V is for volunteer and Voltz

Jane Voltz by Bruce Stambaugh
Jane Voltz has both worked and volunteered for several years at Pomerene Memorial Hospital in Millersburg, Ohio.

By Bruce Stambaugh

Jane Voltz, of Killbuck, Ohio epitomizes the role of a volunteer. She loves the work, but doesn’t want any of the notoriety. Her efforts are reward enough.

Voltz, 70, has been a volunteer with the Joel Pomerene Memorial Hospital auxiliary in Millersburg, Ohio off and on for 30 years. Next year, she will be its president.

That’s why she is looking for yet one more volunteer to replace another volunteer position she has held. Voltz has served as the local Medicare advocate. Because she is once again about recent changes to Medicare, and how the annual open enrollment time, which expires Dec. 31, works.

The Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program at the Ohio Department of Insurance is sponsoring the workshop. It is billed as a way to stay informed, stay healthy and to save money for those enrolled in Medicare.

“This would be a good opportunity for someone to explore what is involved in the position,” Voltz said. “Of course, everyone with questions about Medicare can attend.”

For Voltz, Pomerene Hospital has been a second home. Aside from her extensive volunteering roles, she has worked at the hospital for 35 years.

“I started in 1956 as a nurse’s aide,” Voltz said. She retired 25 years later, and then returned “as a back up to the back lab currier,” as she put it.

“I like spur-of-the-moment things like that,” she said. Voltz cited a Sunday morning call she received to make a run to another hospital for the lab as an example of how her immediate assistance is needed.

Voltz said she considers the hospital staff and volunteers her second family.

“We are very fortunate to have this hospital,” she said.

Voltz said in the process of helping visitors and patients at the hospital, she gets to see people she hasn’t seen in awhile. Voltz said she is only one of at least 100 volunteers who make up the auxiliary.

Voltz said the main roles of volunteers include transporting patients within the hospital, especially department to department, and delivering flowers to patients’ rooms.

She said the auxiliary depends solely on fundraising in order to provide funds for items that are needed, but don’t make it into the hospital’s budget. Profits from the gift shop, uniform sales, poinsettia sales, book sales and bake sales all contribute money to pay for auxiliary donations.

“We work closely with the Pomerene Hospital Foundation,” Voltz said. “The auxiliary recently bought a $6,000 ice machine for the dining area.”

Voltz said she has been the Medicare advocate for the hospital since 1992.

“I want to spend time with my grandchildren,” she said. “There has to be somebody out there who is willing to do this needed service.”

Voltz has a son and a daughter and four grandchildren. She also has five stepchildren, 13 step-grandchildren and 13 step-great-grandchildren. Her first husband, Harold Garver, died in 1970, and her second husband, Dwight, died in 2004. Voltz had stepped away from her volunteer work for a while to care for Dwight, who had Alzheimer’s disease.

Voltz was born and raised in Killbuck, and is a graduate of Killbuck High School. In addition to helping with her grandchildren, Voltz said she likes to travel.

“Anyone who says they don’t know what they would do if they retired needs to know there are many ways to help as a volunteer,” Voltz said.

“We have to enjoy each day because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.”

Voltz used her mother as her inspiration for volunteering. She said her mother would donate items to the Volunteers of America truck whenever it came around.

“Everyone should volunteer for something,” Voltz said. “Your payment is the satisfaction of helping someone.”

During her long career as a volunteer, Voltz certainly has received a great deal of satisfaction from her efforts. Her hope now is that someone will pick up her role as Medicare advocate before the end of the year.

Anyone interested in the Medicare advocate position should contact Voltz by calling the hospital at 330-674-1015.