Villa Volunteer Program At Care Facility in SLC Comes To An End After 60 Years
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A ribbon cutting ceremony signals a new beginning but, this one also signals an end of an era.
“It’s been 60 years, you can’t forget all that’s been done,” Brent Wilson, executive director/administrator of campus said.
A group of Catholic nuns opened St. Joseph’s Villa as a care facility for the elderly. The following year, people in the community started the Villa Volunteers.
“They come and do the activities, they do parties. They’re sending cards, condolences to the families. They’re running the gift shop. They just enhance and make it a family-friendly environment for our residents,” Wilson said.
Maxine Gioviacchini has been a volunteer for 35 years.
“The things they had me bring in originally were flower arrangements, different knick knacks,” Gioviacchini said.
But, the residents didn’t want that, what they really wanted was “candy and plush animals”, she said.
The gift shop has become a vital part for the residents.
“It’s been a wonderful spot. Residents come and show a little independence in their life as far as doing the shopping, either for themselves or someone else,” Gioviacchini said.
It’s easy to see that the volunteers have been a gift to the residents.
Oeke Beuk, who has been a volunteer for 30 years, said, “I love seeing the smile on somebody’s face. Some of them never get any visitors at all and when you speak to them they are so thrilled.
But the volunteers claim the greatest gifts are the ones they have received.
“It just makes me feel – I’m worth something because I contribute to somebody else,” Beuk said.
Now, on the 60th Anniversary, the Villa Volunteer program is coming to an end.
“We had a big drive during the summer. We got one new volunteer and that was it,” Beuk said.
Even though the majority are retiring, they wanted to leave a gift to the residents to remember them by.
“The room was actually chosen by the volunteers,” Wilson said.
Mardell Fayer, president of the Villa Volunteers, said, “We’re hoping this room is used every day but the residents or their family or friends. Just to come in, have a cup of coffee, sit down and talk, play a game, or whatever they want to do.”
“I’m very blessed. Very Blessed,” Gioviacchini said.
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