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2015 Volunteer Award Winners

2015 Volunteers are the Foundation of Hospice Award Honorees

Patient and Family Service

Kay Acker
Hospice of the East Bay
Pleasant Hill, CA

As a 31-year volunteer with Hospice of the East Bay, Kay Aaker has generously supported patients in every possible capacity at the end of their lives. In 2014, Kay devoted 1,550 hours as a patient support, vigil and administrative volunteer. Her greatest impact though is not in numbers but in how she has touched the hearts of the many patients with whom she has sat quietly at the bedside, held a hand, or whispered that she was there for them.  Kay was born in North Dakota, where she had the unusual experience of meeting her husband-to-be as a young child because their mothers were best friends. Kay and her husband David are avid travelers who have created a life full of accomplishments, including three beautiful daughters and seven lively grandchildren. Kay was a gifted elementary school teacher for 46 years, where she trained and utilized a vast team of volunteers in her classrooms. She is also an accomplished gardener, cultivating flowers which she shares with friends and strangers who become friends.  

In addition to receiving the prestigious National Council of Hospice & Palliative Professionals and the National Hospice Foundation’s 2015 Patient Support Volunteer Award, Kay has received many other honors. In 2012 she received the Philanthropy Award as Outstanding Volunteer from the Contra Costa Council’s Social Responsibility Task Force and the 2012 Orinda Volunteer of the Year.  Along with her lengthy tenure with Hospice of the East Bay, Kay has shared her many talents and tireless energy as a 26-year volunteer for the American Cancer Society and other healthcare and educational organizations in Contra Costa County. Kay Aaker’s volunteer contributions over many years have been invaluable to her community.

Organizational Support

Timothy Lee
Penn Wissahickon Hospice
Bala Cynwyd, PA

Timothy Lee is currently based in Philadelphia where he continues to practice mural art and photography while finishing his degree at the University of Pennsylvania. He hopes to continue to practice art while pursuing a degree in medicine in the coming year. With help from the local community and support from Penn Hospice, Timothy took part in the organization of an interdisciplinary revitalization of an underutilized children's room at Penn Hospice at Rittenhouse in Philadelphia. The project brought together over 85 volunteers from schools and organizations across Philadelphia to create a safe place and creative space for children whose families were receiving hospice care. Timothy's involvement in Hospice care extends beyond the project and it is his hope that he can continue to inform others of the importance of end-of-life care and discussion. 

Specialized Volunteer Support

Bonnie Hunt
Hospice of Lubbock
Lubbock, TX

As the oldest girl in a family of eight kids, Lubbock native Bonnie Hunt began cooking and cleaning for her large family at age 12. Instilled with a natural sense of “doing for others,” Bonnie attended Hospice of Lubbock’s first volunteer class in 1987. Undaunted by her physician’s restricting her from visiting patients, Bonnie set out to find a unique way to show love and support to those receiving hospice care. She began creating and assembling festive care baskets – filled with homemade cookies, treats and decorations – to be delivered to hospice families on six major holidays throughout the year without ever missing a holiday. She has impacted thousands of lives as she had donated over 5,040 care baskets throughout the past 28 years! In 2010, Bonnie became one of the initial volunteers in Hospice of Lubbock’s Memory Bear program. To date, Bonnie has sewn 213 teddy bears from patients’ clothing, which are then returned to patients’ loved ones. She has received numerous letters of appreciation from grateful families.

Bonnie has spent countless hours working with various other Hospice of Lubbock programs and fundraising projects. When she is not volunteering there, Bonnie enjoys cooking, sewing, bowling, spending time with her family, and playing with her two dogs, Susie and J.C.  She and her late husband David were married 55 years. She expresses her appreciation to him – along with other family members -- for wholeheartedly supporting and encouraging her commitment. Bonnie believes we should all use our God-given talents to help each other and put a smile on someone’s face. With her humble nature, gentle sense of humor and compassionate volunteer work, Bonnie does exactly that.

Young Leader

Christopher Carswell
Hospice of the Golden Isles
Brunswick, GA

At just 16 years old and despite his own medical challenges – seizures, stroke, four brain surgeries and a recent diagnosis with Loeys-Dietz Syndrome – Christopher Carswell volunteers and gives back on many levels throughout the community. He lives by setting a powerful, yet simple example – he puts others first. In addition to attending school online and battling his ongoing health issues, he has volunteered at Hospice of the Golden Isles for almost 2 years. Along with his service dog, Bronx, he brings comfort and friendship to hospice patients. Christopher and Bronx touched one patient in particular who was missing her own beloved dog when she became a resident at the hospice house. She shared a special connection with both of them, and they comforted her through her final days.

Christopher created his own service organization, 1 Boy 4 Change www.1boy4change.org, when he was 13 years old as his “foundation for change.”  He champions multiple community outreach projects and is an inspiration to those he encounters, while facing chronic illness. Christopher grows stronger personally, mentally and physically daily by showing others how he perseveres under adversity and medical turmoil. He does not let his illnesses define him, and he selflessly gives of himself each day.