Volunteer of the Year: Dave Werton

By Dana Casadei, Angela Hospice Volunteer

When Dave Werton received the Volunteer of the Year award last April, saying he was surprised is an understatement.

Dave with a We Honor Veterans blanket.
"I had no idea, really," he said.

In fact he was tricked into going to the annual volunteer dinner, which he hadn't attended in years. He had been told there would be something for the We Honor Veterans program he's a part of. That didn't happen, and instead he got the night’s top award. And after speaking to Werton it's easy to see why.

"When I first met him I thought he worked here. I thought he was a social worker," laughed Syndie Best, Volunteer Services Manager. "But then I found out he was a volunteer. And that's the thing. He's so unassuming. There's nothing about him that would stand out and go, 'Ta-do, here I am.' He's just not that kind of person."

"I think that's part of the beauty about who he is," she continued. "That he's not showy and it's not about him. He's genuinely very humble and really concerned about the patients."

Dave, who is in the midst of his 20th year of volunteering, was one of Angela Hospice's first volunteers back in 1994. He joined after seeing a story on the front page of the Livonia Observer about the Care Center opening up.

You name it and Dave has probably done it. Bereavement, patient care, and spiritual care are just a few of the areas he's volunteered in. He was even in charge of flowers at one point, he mentioned with a laugh.

Dave has also been responsible for kick-starting programs, including many of the cooking programs.

Dave receiving the Volunteer of the Year award at
last April's annual volunteer dinner.
While he's taken on a leadership role in a variety of areas, Dave doesn't have a problem passing on the reins to newer volunteers.

"If there's something people like to do, I step back and let them take over," he said.

Now most of his focus is volunteering in home care -- his favorite. A large part of that is because Dave enjoys the one-on-one style of home care. And he is always up for taking on patients that have extra challenges.

His up-for-anything mentality has also led to him having a plethora of interesting patient stories. They range from a patient who taught him how to be a better bartender; to one of his first patients, who Dave would hide change in the couch cushions for. Oh, and there's the patient he almost lost in their bed. But that's a story told better in person. Same goes for the baklava story.

So what's made Dave stay all these years? That's easy. The patients.

"I don't really look at them as patients," he said. "They give as much back to me as I give to them."

"The people that get to know him and have him as a volunteer are very lucky," Syndie said. "I hope he sticks around for a long time."

Luckily for Syndie, and future Angela Hospice patients, Dave has no plans on leaving anytime soon.

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