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Sunday, November 2, 2014
Niagara Hospice volunteer Roland Rosati of Lewiston stops to pose with the performers of “Viva Las Vegas” at the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda during a recent Niagara Hospice Volunteer Appreciation event. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)


NORTH TONAWANDA — Niagara Hospice recently pulled out the red carpet for a Viva Las Vegas celebration of the organization’s greatest resource — volunteers.

 “The dedicated volunteers of Niagara Hospice give their time, talents and skills to help our patients and families as they deal with serious illness," said Volunteer coordinator Mandy Raff. "Whether it’s visiting patients in their home or in one of our contracted facilities, providing a respite for caregivers, helping in the office, or at special events, each volunteer makes a huge difference.”

This year, the annual Niagara Hospice Volunteer Appreciation included a Viva Las Vegas show at the Riviera Theatre, followed by dinner and drinks at Crazy Jake’s Restaurant and a performance by Velvet Elvis, a local Elvis impersonator. Following the celebration, awards were presented to volunteers who reflect the mission and philosophy of Niagara Hospice in their role as Hospice Volunteer. “Our Niagara Hospice volunteers are special people, each dedicated to their service to others. This is truly a celebration of them,” said volunteer coordinator Andrea Haseley.

The Patricia L. Evans Founders Award was presented to Rita Beitz of Lockport; the Niagara Hospice Directors Award was given to Shirley Wagner of Lockport; and Gene Brayley of Lockport received the Ernie Leder Memorial Speaker’s Bureau Award. Long-time Camp Hope volunteers and organizers were also recognized for their dedication and service. Camp Hope is a free bereavement camp for children age 7-13 presented each year by Niagara Hospice. Honored recipients were Joanne Ruppel-Frawley, Matt Renzi and Dr. Sam Pappalardo. Other honorees for their outstanding work with residents receiving hospice services at skilled nursing facilities are Mary Beth Beane of Newfane for her work at Rebekah’s Pathway located at Odd Fellow & Rebekah Rehabilitation and Health Care Center; Pat Longstreet of Barker for her work at Niagara Hospice House; Janet Ryan of North Tonawanda for her work at Hospice at Jeanne’s House at Northgate Healthcare Facility; and Linda Malinowski of Youngstown for her work at David’s Path located at Schoellkopf Health Care Facility. June Koepcke of Wilson was presented an award for her work in Administration and Bob Reese of Youngstown received the Special Events Award for his help with fundraising. The outstanding Pet Volunteer Award went to Boo, a three year old white Maltese, owned by Peg Stevenson of Barker who accepted on Boo’s behalf. An additional nine volunteers were honored with five years of service to Niagara Hospice. Kathy Laynor of Amherst was honored for fifteen years of service and Marilyn Freeman of Lockport was recognized for twenty years of service.

Niagara Hospice will hold a new volunteer training from 5-9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at 4675 Sunset Drive. For more information or to apply to the volunteer program call 280-0748 or visit

Niagara Hospice has provided end-of-life comfort, care and support since 1988 to over 20,000 Niagara County individuals and families faced with terminal illness. No one is ever denied hospice care due to inability to pay.

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