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Volunteer of the Year Melissa Hoyt is joined by nominator Cara Helfner, at left, and Kate Walsh.
More than 1,800 men and women volunteered at BWH this past year, helping out in more than 125 locations throughout the hospital’s distributed campus and giving a whopping one million hours.
“These numbers are staggering and absolutely inspiring,” said Kate Walsh, chief operating officer, in kicking off Tuesday’s Volunteer Recognition and Celebration in Bornstein Amphitheater. “Thank you for all your energy and all you give to our patients, their families and our staff.”
BWH named Melissa Hoyt as the Volunteer of the Year during Tuesday’s event, hosted by Volunteer and Community Access Services. Hoyt joined BWH two years ago and since then has spent at least one day each week volunteering in Kessler Health Education Library. She is legally blind, with some residual vision, and she enjoys using her own experiences to improve the lives of others.
“Melissa greets patients and families in the library with her warm smile, upbeat personality and sincere and helpful approach,” Cara Helfner, MSLIS, chief librarian and program manager of Kessler Library, said while presenting the award to Hoyt. “She has helped so many BWH patients and family members on their paths to wellness.”
Hoyt embraces her role at the Kessler Library with pride and accuracy, never letting her own challenges interfere with her ability to help others. She and her service dog, Karo, have spent countless hours reviewing books on tape so blind or visually impaired patients and families have access to the library’s literature. She also enjoys teaching visitors about the library’s invaluable resources.
In addition to her time in Kessler, Hoyt volunteers at the Reserve Corps Disaster Preparedness Unit, is a guardian for a neighbor with dementia, participates in the Bay State Council for the Blind and has developed Web sites that provide informational resources about blindness.
“Melissa truly follows her dreams and enriches the lives of others in everything she does,” Helfner said. As part of the award, Hoyt received $500 to donate to charity. She selected the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
During the program, more than 100 volunteers, their families and hospital staff heard from Sue E. Levkoff, ScD, MSW, SM, and Noelle Downing, MA, CHES, of the Positive Aging Resource Center. “Emotional wellness is the key to positive aging, and staying connected through volunteering is proven to help people age well,” Levkoff said. In addition, Nadine Chase of Radiology sang with her ensemble for the occasion.