Twenty-five and 325, the total number of years and service hours that Katie Diller, A.J. Wasilewski, Reese Snyder and Allison Kulas have, collectively, been volunteering at Hospice & Community Care’s Labor Day Auction. For each of these young people, volunteering was instilled in them at a young age by their parents who themselves spent, and continue to spend, their Labor Day weekends at the Auction. For Katie, A.J., Reese and Allison, as they get older their commitment and dedication to the organization continues to grow.
Katie Diller, who is 27 years old, started volunteering for Hospice & Community Care in 2001 at the age of six. “I wasn’t officially old enough to volunteer, but both of my parents were,” explained Katie. “I was given an Auction t-shirt that went down to my ankles, and I followed my father around. I’ve been volunteering every year since and have only missed one Auction!”
“I began volunteering after Hospice supported my family through the death of my grandmother from cancer,” shared Katie. “Not only was Hospice able to keep her at home and comfortable, and give my parents a much needed break, I also benefited from the Coping Kids & Teens Program. That is what spurred my volunteering experience. Over the years, I have had other family members supported by Hospice, including my other grandmother, and have seen how many people throughout the community Hospice has supported. I’m honored to be able to give back.” Katie works in financial consulting for health systems, and she has come to learn the importance of hospice programs from a quality of care and cost perspective, and sees the impact both on a macro and micro scale.
Katie’s support of Hospice & Community Care extends beyond the Labor Day Auction. She volunteered for the organization’s Plant Sale, served as a counselor at the Pathways Center for Grief & Loss’ Camp Chimaqua, and prepared meals for patients, families and staff at the Bob Fryer & Family Inpatient Center during the holidays.
“Personally, I’ve always found volunteering to be one of the most fulfilling activities,” expressed Katie. “Volunteering provides a sense of purpose, enables introductions to new people and experiences, teaches important life and professional skills, and is often fun! I think volunteering can also inspire new passions. I give some credit to my volunteer work with Hospice for developing my passion for healthcare because it helped me to see how impactful that work can be.”
Similar to Katie, A.J. Wasilewski started formally volunteering at the Labor Day Auction at the age of 16, and 17 years later he is continuing to give back. One of his favorite experiences at the Auction was many years ago when the event was held at the Lampeter Fairgrounds.
“It was a rainy Labor Day Auction and my family and I had been assigned to making milkshakes in a little shed at the Lampeter Fairgrounds,” shared A.J. “We didn’t have instructions for the milkshake machine, or milkshake recipes to follow, and we each ended up a sticky mess. The heavy rains helped with clean-up somewhat, but there was so much rain, the whole fairgrounds turned into a giant mud puddle. It was such a quagmire that volunteers, my dad and I were pushing cars to get them free from the sloppy mess! After what felt like hours of slogging, slipping and falling in ruts and puddles, I felt exhausted but somehow exhilarated; and still remember that cold, wet day as one of the most fun I’ve ever had.” That is what volunteering is all about. Having fun, making memories and giving back to others.
A.J.’s support of the organization doesn’t end with the Auction. He also lends his time to the Hospice Plant Sale and helps make food for the staff and volunteer Book Sale. “Being engaged with community organizations, be it Hospice & Community Care, a fire company, an environmental group, or another community group, is a great gateway to meeting new people and building new skill sets,” explained A.J. “In addition, community organizations provide essential services to our whole society that we, collectively, may not otherwise have. Hospice strikes a tone with me because it provides an essential service, at a very high level of quality, for all of us when we are our most vulnerable. If I can help this absolutely necessary organization to continue providing service to those in need now, it is my hope that such services are still around when I require them.”
Reese Snyder is one of Hospice & Community Care’s newer Auction volunteers, beginning his service three years ago at the age of 14. Reese helps at the Plant Auction, holds up items for bid and drives a motorized cart to deliver water to his fellow volunteers along with collecting trash.
“Some of my favorite experiences while volunteering are meeting my fellow volunteers, as well as helping people around the Auction sites,” commented Reese. “While driving the cart this year I helped a few people deliver items to their cars after I finished the trash and water runs.”
When Reese isn’t volunteering for Hospice, he volunteers with the Boy Scouts in Ephrata. “I will earn my Eagle Scout this year and a big part of our community service is our annual volunteer hours,” explained Reese. “I think volunteering is a good way to spend your free time. It also helps you learn valuable skills for your possible future job.”
“I volunteer for the Auction because I love meeting all of the people and helping my mom do what makes her happy,” shared Allison Kulas. Allison’s mom, Diane Kulas, is an employee at Hospice & Community Care. Allison is 15 years old and has been volunteering at the Labor Day Auction since she was 11. “I think young people should get involved because it will inspire other kids to try it out and it is, overall, a great environment to be in at a young age.”
Like Reese, Allison holds up items that are for bid at the Auction, as well as delivers items to the highest bidders in the crowd and keeps track of what items were purchased during designated times as a computer clerk. As a computer clerk, volunteers are front and center with the auctioneers during the Auction and the job requires a lot of concentration along with fast typing skills. This is a job that even adult volunteers shy away from, but Allison always jumps right in and is up for the task.
Allison’s volunteer service with Hospice also includes assisting at the Plant Sale and helping the Pathways Center for Grief & Loss staff prepare activities and projects for Coping Kids & Teens and Camp Chimaqua. “I would love to volunteer at Camp Chimaqua when I am old enough,” expressed Allison.
Thank you to Katie, A.J., Reese and Allison for building a legacy of volunteerism. Most volunteers will never see, or be able to appreciate, the value and ripple effects of their service. But for the patients and families Hospice & Community Care serves, this is a priceless gift.
Allison said it best, “It is never too late or too early to start volunteering. There is a job for everyone at the Labor Day Auction.”
If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering for Hospice & Community Care, please contact the Volunteer Services Department at (717) 295-3900 or visit https://www.hospiceandcommunitycare.org/hospice-care/volunteer-2/.