St. Clara’s holds annual volunteer appreciation luncheon
Ginger Shelton and family named the Volunteer of the Year

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[April 16, 2016]   LINCOLN - On Monday, St. Clara’s Manor honored the many volunteers who work daily to make the lives of their residents pleasant and happy with a special luncheon. The annual spring event was held downstairs in the St. Clara’s Chapel and hosted by Activity Director Rebecca Johnson.

Twenty-one volunteers were in attendance, which Johnson said, with the exception of the dozens who take turns helping with Sunday Communion represented the majority of the volunteers at the Manor.

The day began with welcoming comments and prayer by Johnson, then moved on to a meal served by Johnson, Linda Bree, Marie Parr, Becky Kleinman and Manor Administrator Mike Eads. Lunch consisted of barbecue sandwich, coleslaw, pickle slices and potato chips, with a decadent Red Velvet Pie served for dessert.

After the lunch, Johnson led the group in a fun game. She placed two brown paper bags at each of the three guest tables, then read a story about Mrs. Wright (right) and her daughter who had a great adventure getting ready to visit St. Clara’s Manor. The key to the game was the word 'right' and also the word 'left'. As Johnson read the funny story, the person holding onto the bag was to pass it to the left or right accordingly. As the story moved along, it was funny to hear, but also, fun to hurriedly pass the bags left to right to right to left. When some got confused the laughter at the table would ensue. At the end of the game, the person holding the bag won the prize inside.

After the game, Johnson talked about the gifts of the volunteers and told a story about life in heaven and hell. She said, in hell there was a table filled with all the wonderful foods anyone could ever imagine, and that the guests of hell were welcome to any and all of it. Each person was given a fork and told to dig in. The problem was the fork was three foot long, and no matter how hard they worked they could not get the food on the fork into their mouths. This story had been relayed from a person in hell to a person in heaven.

The person in heaven said that the same table with all the glorious food was there as well. And again, yes they could have all they wanted to eat at any time, and yes they had the forks that were three foot long, but they all still ate and ate very well because instead of trying to feed themselves, they filled their forks and fed each other.

Johnson commented that one of the Bible's most important verses (paraphrased) is "what you have done for the least of these you have done also for me.”

During the luncheon each year, one person is singled out to be honored as a Volunteer of the Year. On Monday, Johnson named off the volunteers she has named in her time as activity director, then asked for a show of hands of others in the room who had been named by previous activity directors. She verbally applauded each one of them.

She then began her introduction of the 2016 Volunteer of the Year who was Ginger Shelton and her family. Though Ginger may be the primary volunteer, she comes often with the help and support of her family members who each month host birthday parties for the residents. Johnson noted that the Shelton family has been doing the monthly parties for the past six years.

Ginger Shelton is the wife of Pastor Glenn Shelton of Lincoln, and she is also the daughter of the late Gladys Harrington. Gladys was a resident of St. Clara’s and a member of the Centenarian Club for the past three years. This year Gladys was unable to attend the Centenarian luncheon held in February because of her quickly fading health. She passed away not long after.


This week, the volunteer luncheon held a secondary purpose. Many of the volunteers remembered Gladys to her daughter and each other and noted that the two women possess many of the same traits from the fact that they look very much alike to their sweet demeanor and their great love for God, family, and life on the whole.

Before leaving for the day, Johnson asked to go around the room and that the volunteers speak about what they do for the residents of St. Clara’s. Many gave that information, and some took advantage of the moment to expand on what the Manor, the residents, and the staff mean to them.

Among those was Norma Kramer. She is the wife of Pastor Ken Kramer of the St. John’s United Church of Christ. She explained that she and her husband had come to Lincoln to minister to the church, and had relocated her aunt to St. Clara’s Manor, a decision she found to be the best possible one for her loved one and herself. She gave her personal thanks to all the volunteers who help make her aunt's life more pleasant.

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Lyle Read spoke about what God has done for all of the volunteers, for all Christians. He said God had pushed them all, telling them they belonged here doing his work. He remembered that his mother was a resident. He came and would sing for the residents so that he could sing for her. He said that as his mother’s time drew near, she challenged him saying that when she was gone, he was not to stop his ministry to the residents. Read said that after she passed away, he did bow out for about a month, then one day God tapped on his shoulder and reminded him of his promise and brought him back to the Manor. He said, “Sometimes we read the news in the paper and wonder if there is a God anymore, but yes there is a God, and he is right here.”

Read also noted that not only are the volunteers a blessing to the residents but so are the staff such as Rebecca Johnson and many others.

John Lindenbaum recounted that he comes to St. Clara’s to sing and read scriptures. He recalled a time when he was told never to stop singing. The person talking to him reminded him that God gives us all gifts, and we are expected to use them for Him. He was told, that he will keep his gift as long as he uses it, but if he ever stops, God will take that talent away and give it to someone else. He recalled that his father’s sister had Alzheimer’s and could not speak, but when she was in a facility when people would come and sing, it would often times unlock a memory in his aunt, and she would begin to sing. He noted that the gift of music was of great value to his aunt, and to everyone who hears it.

Ben Vogel had spoken earlier, but after all the introductions were over he spoke again, focusing on St. Clara’s Administrator Mike Eads. He recalled a resident at St. Clara’s that was often referred to as the “Princess.” He said one day he was visiting the individual rooms and came into to see the Princess and things were not good. Vogel said they had prayed for the Princess and asked God to send someone to help her and had no more than said the ‘Amen” when Mike Eads walked in the door, and went to her side, sat with her and talked with her. Vogel said he noted out loud to the others he was with that God had quickly answered that prayer.

He also said there was a day when he came into the Manor, and he saw Mike sitting at the nurses desk reading a resident file. Vogel said he noted to himself that Mike Eads was a caring administrator who cared enough about the residents to know their history and understand their lives,

Vogel asked Eads about his history with St. Clara’s. Eads explained that when he was sixteen he had gone to work at Bartmann’s Nursing home in the dietary department. He later left there and went to work for his father in construction. When he was married, his wife a nurse, came to work for St. Clara’s. Eads said he decided that he wanted to work here also and started as a maintenance person. He said he stayed, and his role with the nursing home continually grew from there.

Earlier in the day, Eads had talked with LDN about the beautiful stained glass windows that are in the chapel as well as the one upstairs in the community and dining room area. He said that he had personally built all but two of the wooden frames that now preserve the antique windows and keep them on display for everyone to enjoy. He said it was one of the first duties he performed when he began working in maintenance at the Manor.

Eads also took a moment to express his appreciation to all the volunteers who make the lives of the residents better, and Johnson thanked not only the volunteers but her staff; Linda and Becky, as well as Marie Parr for all they do for her in her job as well as for the residents. Gratitude was also expressed for all the other staff at St. Clara’s who dedicate themselves to the care of the residents.

After a closing prayer, guests were invited to stay and visit if they wished. As they left the chapel, each one in attendance was given a gift of appreciation for the love they show daily to those who need them.

[Nila Smith]

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