Text Size

  • Increase
  • Decrease
  • Normal

Current Size: 100%

2018 Volunteer Award Winners

2018 Volunteers are the Foundation of Hospice Award Honorees

Organizational Support Category

Jim (J.P.) Morgan
Joliet Area Community Hospice
Joliet, IL

J.P. Morgan began his volunteering with Joliet Area Community Hospice (JACH) 10 years ago, shortly after retiring from ExxonMobil.  His volunteering began with weekly four-hour shifts in JACH’s 16-bed hospice home inpatient unit, where he would visit patients and respond to their needs and those of family members and staff at the unit. Shortly after he began, JACH learned about his significant photography skills, and in 2010, J.P. took on the role of “official” agency photographer at the 13+ events held each year, taking over 7400 photos in the process. Responding to a need he became aware of, for the past year, J.P. has also given at least five hours each week in the maintenance of JACH’s 39,000 square foot building and 15-acre property.

J.P. has volunteered at least 200 hours every year since he began with JACH, totaling an awe-inspiring 2,433 hours. His volunteering has also impacted JACH financially, as the agency has received $2,000 from ExxonMobil for each year J.P. has volunteered, totaling $20,000 donated to date in his name. Joliet Area Community Hospice is a richer agency in so many ways thanks to J.P.’s considerable contributions! Besides being a cherished volunteer and friend to JACH staff who know him, J.P. is a devoted son to his 96-year-old father, brother, husband to Maggie, father to three daughters, and proud grandfather to one granddaughter and one grandson. J.P. resides in Joliet, Illinois.

Patient/Family Support Category

Laurence P. Rybak
VITAS Healthcare Corporation
Lombard, IL

Larry Rybak has provided more than 20,000 hours of volunteer service to VITAS® Healthcare in Northwest Chicago since December 2004—a number that doesn’t begin to capture the dedication, compassion and expertise he brings to each patient and family. Whether driving a hospice patient through her childhood neighborhood one last time, engaging in a Yahtzee tournament with a dying patient or standing vigil at the bedside for family members who cannot be present at a loved one’s death, the former businessman says he strives to “give the best to my patients as they make their final journey.”

“Larry can look straight into the eye of grief, accept it for the reality that it is, and move through it to create a better world,” says Karen Smith, Volunteer Manager of the VITAS Chicago-Northwest program. “He has integrity. He is a volunteer extraordinaire and one of the most authentic people I know.”

Specialized Volunteer Service Category

C. Scott Eschbach
Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care
Santa Barbara, CA

Scott began his hospice volunteer work in Dutchess County, New York in the early 1990s following the experience of being personally supported by hospice during the death of both his parents.  His response was typical of many who wish to repay the experience by contributing to the volunteer program, but he maintains that his longevity in hospice volunteering has taught him that there is also great self-fulfillment in this mission.  After relocating to California he retrained with Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care of Santa Barbara and knew that he wanted to be involved in their Serenity House in-patient facility, where he currently schedules three seven-hour shifts per week.  Growth in the hospice experience led him to train to study and certify as a Reiki therapist; an integrated therapy practice he provides to patients.  After gaining some experience Scott joined the ‘No One Dies Alone’ program and remains on call to provide a vigil for patients who have no one else.     When VNHC joined the ‘We Honor Veterans’ project, he became part of the inaugural effort.  His most recent specialized service is as a trained facilitator and videographer for the ‘Memories of a Lifetime’ service, through which patients’ reminiscences are recorded as a lasting gift to loved ones.  By providing specialized services Scott believes we greatly enhances the already wonderful impact hospice volunteers have on patients and loved ones.

Scott grew up in Saint Paul, Minnesota, but has spent his adult life in Massachusetts, Alaska (where he served in the U.S. Army), New York, Nevada (where he maintains a part-time home), and Santa Barbara, California, where he currently resides.  He obtained a B.A. from Macalester College and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from M.I.T.  Having spent his early career in chemical research, he is now a retired business executive of medical device companies.  Scott is married, has a daughter, a son and four grandchildren.  Today his life priorities are centered on family, volunteering as a business administrator for his local church, and of course his devotion to hospice volunteering.

Young Leader Category

Blake Weissman
Infinity Hospice Care
Las Vegas, NV

Blake Weissman sees himself as a regular guy from Las Vegas. His interests include his family (including his dog of course), improvisation courses, sports, yoga, and YouTube. During his high school career at Bishop Gorman, Blake played three varsity sports (tennis, volleyball, bowling), starred as "Jafar" in Aladdin (school musical), finished as Co-Valedictorian with a 4.07 GPA, and created his own Youtube Channel (“Weiss Advice”) based on giving high school advice to problems that surface. Currently, Blake studies at the University of Michigan in the Ross School of Business. Aside from his interests, Blake believes that learning from the experiences life brings is essential.  

During his junior year of high school, Blake took an affinity to Infinity Hospice Care. He wanted to understand life's value and found that Infinity Hospice Care provided him with a perspective that many other organizations could not have done. Taking care of patients at hospice gave Blake the opportunity to learn from those who had lived an entire lifetime. Eighteen years on this planet is not enough to know how life works and taking care of those who have lived full lives is the least he could do. Hospice is and will continue to be a major factor in Blake’s life as he continues to learn from and assist others in need.