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.
By Bruce Stambaugh
When the earth roared like thunder, everything changed for young Abigail Troyer.
The 19-year old rural Sugarcreek woman was in Haiti visiting a friend who worked at a home for poor girls in Leogane, a city of 120,000. When the massive earthquake hit on January 12, Troyer’s vacation turned into a spontaneous mission trip.
With the frightening sound and incredible shaking her first thought was to exit the food storage building she was in. Troyer said she was able to stay on her feet to get out. But once outside she had to crawl on her hands and knees due to the fierce shaking.
“After the shaking stopped, I couldn’t believe it really happened,” Troyer said. “I wasn’t hurt, but I was emotionally spent.”
Troyer said she huddled with the staff and girls in the compound of the school, which is operated by Blue Ridge Missions, headquartered in Montgomery, Indiana. The school helps poor girls with education, hygiene and basic life skills.
Troyer said one of the problems was that the tremblers kept coming every five to 10 minutes, and she wondered when they would quit. Fortunately, no one at the school was seriously hurt, although the buildings and protective concrete wall were severely damaged. Troyer said it could have been much worse, too. She said several of the girls were delayed in going into a building that was destroyed.
“It was scary, especially at night,” Troyer said. “Outside in the streets it was chaos.” Fortunately, the school had a generator, which was run periodically to provide some light for security.
“We also had a couple of guard dogs that protected us,” she said. “Some men from Blue Ridge Missions arrived via the Dominican Republic five days later.” All that time, the staff and schoolgirls slept outside on mats and blankets, Troyer said.
Troyer has worked as a graphic designer at Carlisle Printing in Walnut Creek for two years. But her real ambition is to go to college to become a Registered Nurse.
Little did Troyer know that she would get some first-hand nursing experience before she left for Haiti last New Year’s Eve. But several days after the quake, she got recruited to help the injured.
An aid organization called Heart to Heart International, based in Kansas City, Kansas, sent medical personnel to assist with the multitude of injuries caused by the quake. In searching for a place to locate, members of the group came upon the girls’ school.
“Heart to Heart set up a temporary hospital in the neighborhood,” Troyer explained, “and since we had water from a well, they did their laundry at the compound.”
Once she saw what Heart to Heart was doing, she volunteered her services. Troyer assisted with the injured, and boxed medical supplies for the nurses and doctors.
“I helped clean wounds and wrapped bandages for six days,” Troyer said. “It was amazing to see the wounds heal in that amount of time.” She said she worked with the nurses and doctors six to eight hours a day.
“Originally I went there for a vacation,” she said. “Helping like that wasn’t what we had planned, like shopping, which of course didn’t happen.
Troyer did manage a few souvenirs, just not the ones she had imagined before she left Ohio. A favorite is the colorful flag of Haiti in the form of a scarf. Another is a T-shirt signed by all the Heart to Heart staff with whom she worked.
Troyer has plenty of pictures that she is more than happy to share. Since her return, she has given several programs at area churches about her experiences.
Laurie Mast, whose sister, Emily, works at the mission school, accompanied Troyer on the trip. They were able to return to Ohio on February 1 by way of the airport in the Dominican Republic.
This vacation trip turned volunteer nurses’ aid was an experience Troyer will never forget. Furthermore, Troyer indicated that it has greatly enhanced her vision of becoming a nurse. With her confidence, courage and assertive approach to life, that aspiration is pretty certain to happen.
For information about Troyer sharing her experiences in Haiti, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article first appeared in the Holmes Bargain Hunter, August 9, 2010.