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Volunteers Spotlight - Happenings Magazine — Happenings Magazine

Volunteers Spotlight

Sarah Brown
University of Scranton

Sarah Brown, a student at the University of Scranton, enjoyed taking part in Spark, a week-long summer program run by The University of Scranton and Scranton Prep. Kids ranging from ages 12 to 16 come to Chapman Lake to learn about life skills and topics such as bullying awareness and prevention, positive role models and team work. The campers and students form special bonds. “Not a day goes by where I do not think about Spark. I formed many memories with the participants and the team that will last a lifetime,” said Brown.

Brown was initially drawn to the Spark because of her admiration for her teacher, Mr. Danny Marx. She always loved working with younger people and thought Spark would be the perfect way to give back. Brown also works with the Big Friends, Little Friends program. “When I volunteer I learn something new about myself which has helped me grow and develop as an individual.”


Jeanne Simoncelli
The Pines

Jeanne Simoncelli of Clarks Summit, PA, is a volunteer at The Pines Senior Living. Jeanne is an Activity and Party Assistant. Her job includes assisting with decorations, refreshments and party activities. Jeanne previously worked as an Abington Heights Teacher and a Nichols Associates Real Estate Agent. Simoncelli now volunteers at The Pines because she is very fond of the residents, the staff, and The Millett family who owns and operates the retirement community.


Griff Lewis
Penn State University; Worthington

Griff Lewis volunteers as a Committee member for Boy Scout Troop 21. He attends monthly meetings to discuss scouting activities and fundraisers for the Troop. The Committee members also serve on Boards of Review for Scouts who are advancing in Rank. “It is amazing to see the transformation from a new, nervous young Scout at his first Board of Review to a well-spoken and skilled young man,” says Lewis. Lewis has previously served as a Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster and had the privilege of seeing many of his Scouts become Eagle Scouts including his sons. Lewis made many great friends during his 15 years in scouting. Lewis was initially drawn to the Boy Scouts to spend more time with his sons in the outdoors. As time went on, he was very happy to help with the other boys’ development into young men through learning outdoor and leadership skills. Now, even after his sons have gone on to college, Lewis still continues to volunteer and make a positive difference in the lives of the boys and young men in BSA Troop 21.


Lou Naro
Children’s Advocacy Center

Lou Naro, Children’s Advocacy Center Moonlight Race Cochairman, also volunteers at his church, Masonic Organization, San Cataldo Club and for various events in the community. He has chaired many events and can often be found as the cook at events involving food. Lou has watched and helped his father volunteer for years. His father inspired him to help other people. Lou recalls needing the services of the C.A.C. nine years ago. After seeing the way they care for and love the children and families who are going through difficult times, he felt it was very easy to volunteer for them. The C.A.C. helped his family through the most difficult time of his life. “They are one of the greatest groups of caring and loving people I have ever met,” says Naro.


Kathleen Haikes
Traditional Home Health Hospice

Kathleen Haikes, a Volunteer Coordinator with Traditional Home Healthcare, and mother of Elizabeth and David, has been very active in the community for the last 17 years. She spent time volunteering as a PTA president and assisting at her church rectory. Over the last few years, she  has raised money for Team in Training and The Danny Did Foundation based in Chicago. Kathleen also started a foundation called Matthew’s Mission in memory of her brother Matthew J. Newell who passed away in 2010. The foundation recently held its 7th Breakfast with Santa serving 1800 people. “Volunteering and knowing you can make a difference can truly make your heart happy,” says Haikes. During her time with Traditional Hospice, Kathleen realized that the word ‘hospice’ does not have to be such a scary word. She believes hospice is about providing peace, comfort and dignity at the end of life. Hearing a patient talk about his or her life makes Kathleen smile. “I believe everyone has a story and having a volunteer visit our patients is giving them the opportunity to share their story. At Traditional Hospice folks can also volunteer in the office or with their outreach program called Kindness Begins with Traditional.


Vera Radice
Scranton Cultural Center

Vera Radice of Scranton PA, is an Administrative Assistant for GCA Services. In addition, Radice volunteers as an usher at the Scranton Cultural Center. She has been volunteering for over 25 years and has loved every minute of it! Radice has been volunteering in some way all of her life and enjoys giving back to the community. Several years ago, Radice was directed to the Scranton Cultural Center through a workshop at the Voluntary Action Center and has been volunteering ever since. “I get so much fulfillment from it!” exclaims Radice.


Michelle and Lia Sminkey 
Wyoming Seminary

Michelle Sminkey of Laurel Run, PA is an Accountant at Wyoming Seminary. Michelle and her daughter, Lia, volunteer as puppy raisers for The Seeing Eye in Morristown, NJ. Michelle is the treasurer of PawsAbilities, Luzerne County chapter of The Seeing Eye. The two adopt puppies when they are 7-8 weeks old and raise them for approximately one year. They teach the puppies basic obedience while exposing them to people and places so that they can be calm and confident dogs in a wide variety of circumstances. The puppies go everywhere with Michelle and Lia including work, school, church and the mall. When the puppies are about 15 months they are sent on their way to become guide dogs. The pair was inspired to volunteer because of their love of dogs. The help that these service dogs provide for people reinforces Michelle and Lia’s love for this organization. It is difficult to give the dogs up after a year but “knowing that you have played a small part in giving someone their independence makes it worth it!” expressed Michelle.


Kristen Shemanski
Leadership Lackawanna

Kristen Shemanski of Jessup, PA, is a Committee Chair and Board Member for Leadership Lackawanna. As a member of the board of directors, Shemanski helps to promote the different programs affiliated with the Leadership Lackawanna. Shemanski also serves on a variety of committees to organize events, and to nominate new board members. She has always loved giving back to the community. She has also formed countless friendships through the Leadership Lackawanna Core program and seeks to help others gain the same experience.


Jacob Trunzo
Old Forge Manor

Jacob Trunzo of Fleetville, PA, is a third grade student who enjoys volunteering at Old Forge Manor. Trunzo, the youngest of our featured volunteers, likes to be “hands on” and help residents with everyday needs. He assists the residents in a variety of ways including putting up signs to direct residents and family members to events, making announcements and chatting with the residents. Trunzo likes to stay active so, he plays games and exercises with the residents. He enjoys volunteering because he loves to see a smile on the residents’ faces. His mother, Amber Trunzo is the Area Director of Operations for Old Forge Manor. He attends different activities with her. He has helped his mom with the Alzheimer’s Association as well. This year, Jacob hopes to have a bigger volunteering role in in the Alzheimer’s Walk at PNC Field where his mother will be the Chair of the event.


Ed Ozman
Lackawanna Historical Society                                                                    

Ed Osman of Dalton, PA volunteers as a collections Management Cataloguer. He has volunteered for the Lackawanna Historical Society for more than ten years and has been invaluable in sharing his knowledge of historic tools, military history and local industry. He has assisted the curator in cataloging a variety of collections and helped to install several exhibits including “Spirits of Scranton,” “Domestic Science” and one on military uniforms. Osman currently serves as a member of the Collections Committee which meets regularly to determine if offered donations fit within the Society’s mission. Osman served in the United States Air Force for 23 years, and worked as the Athletic Director for Abington Heights.


Rosemary Rosamilia and Rosamaria Donchez
State Theater

Rosemary Rosamilia and Rosamaria Donchez of Bethlehem PA, participate in a variety of volunteer roles at the State Theater. Rosemary is retired and Rosamaria is a nurse. The two women enjoy volunteering as ushers, door guards, ticket takers and front desk assistants. Rosemary and Rosamaria help patrons find their seats, hand out brochures, and explain any special materials about the pictures in the gallery. Both women appreciate making a difference in the lives of others. They were first drawn to volunteer over their love for the theater. As they became more involved in the State Theater, they have come to appreciate the overall commitment of everyone involved in the day to day management. Rosemary and Rosamaria love to volunteer because they are able to help others while having fun themselves. “We love watching children with terminally ill diseases smile and laugh and have a good time when playing board games, reading a book, or just sitting, holding their hand and talking.”


Audrey Brozena

Audrey Brozena of Wyoming, PA, is a Member Services Volunteer in Action with WVIA. Brozena answers phones during pledge drives and volunteers at various member day events and community outreach events. Twenty years ago, Brozena was asked to answer calls during a TV pledge drive as a member of a community service group, Verizon Telecom Pioneers. She has volunteered ever since after finding the experience very rewarding! Brozena also serves as a volunteer receptionist to assist the Pennsylvania Polka tapings and the Our Town broadcasts. She trains the residents of the featured towns to take calls from their friends and neighbors. Brozena has personally operated the audio board during a live TV pledge drive where she had a lot of fun.


Susan Davis
Wilkes University

Susan Davis of Laurel, MD, volunteers as an Alumni Student Mentor in the Wilkes Alumni Student Mentoring Program. Since joining the program in 2011, Davis has had the opportunity to mentor ten students. The program was established by the University in 2009 and aims to provide meaningful relationships between alumni and students to prepare them for the professional world. Alumni and students are matched via the mentoring program to interact a minimum of four times each semester. This can be done in person, on the phone or through email. Students are required to complete assignments related to their interactions with their mentors. The alumni office also sponsors mixers which allow alumni and mentees to meet in person. Davis assists students with resumes, goal planning, interview skills, preparing for boards and applying for jobs, internships or graduate school. “It is an incredible program that affords me the opportunity to ‘pay back’ the university for the outstanding education I received,  said Davis. Susan’s mentees have successfully passed boards on first attempts, attained jobs, and gone on to pursue Masters in Nursing. “One of my mentees who has graduated is now a mentor this semester at Wilkes as she has decided to “pay it forward” and help others too.”


Barbara Rogers
Wyoming Seminary

Barbara Rogers of Bear Creek, PA, is a Wyoming Seminary Lower School fifth grade teacher. Barbara volunteers as a Seeing Eye Puppy Raiser for Pawsabilities. She was drawn to Pawsabilities because a family member is blind and has greatly benefited from a seeing eye dog. Rogers is currently raising her second puppy. She socializes her puppies by taking them to movies, shopping and dining. The puppies also travel to work whenever possible. She works on different basic commands like sit, stay, come and rest. Rogers enjoys her volunteer work because she knows that her work will help someone experience greater independence in their daily life. Rogers and her former colleague help raise awareness of the Seeing Eye Organization within the school through fundraising and presentations. –Aleni & Marala Mackarey