Bible Methodist group named ‘Volunteers of the Year’ at Autumn Care

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 30, 2015

By Mark Wineka

SALISBURY — Lois Miller retired from Collins & Aikman in 1994, and she soon fell into the routine of accompanying other members of Bible Methodist Church on weekly trips to the Autumn Care nursing home.

It’s pretty amazing, but after two decades they’re still coming. At 10:30 a.m. every Wednesday, Bible Methodist members conduct a 45-minute church service for residents in the Autumn Care chapel.

Judy Nolte plays her saxophone. Miller, Julia Thompson and Grace Womer sing as a trio. Wayne Mateer might give a reading.

There are hymns, scripture, prayer and other spiritual messages.

And residents are so appreciative, the Bible Methodist members say.

“It makes you want to come back,” Miller said Thursday when Bible Methodist Church members were named “Volunteers of the Year” during an appreciation luncheon at Autumn Care.

Accepting the award on behalf of the church were Miller, Mateer, Nolte, Thompson, Bill and Grace Womer and Paul Brink.

“They are so devoted,” Autumn Care Activities Director Kim Crowley said.

Bible Methodist Church’s volunteer service to Autumn Care has outlasted six administrators, seven directors of nursing and five activity directors, Crowley said.

This past winter, members of the church even came on Christmas Eve. When needed, they minister to bed-bound residents, and they supply Gideon Bibles to anyone who wants them.

“They’re ever-present, ever-faithful,” Crowley said.

The award plaque probably will be attached to a wall in the church vestibule, Nolte said.

Thursday’s luncheon honored many other volunteers who help make things easier for staff and improve the quality of life for residents.

In providing activities, Crowley said she and her assistant, Kathi Allen, are often setting up and taking down tables, climbing ladders, decorating for different themes, running back and forth from storage with various bins, ordering supplies, taking photographs, scheduling performers, going on outings, attending meetings and writing newsletters.

In between all of this, Crowley said, “we do all the important things,” such as comfort residents, pray with them and just spend time with everybody. All of that high-priority stuff is amplified significantly by the contributions of volunteers, she said.

Becky Parks, who was last year’s Volunteer of the Year, still makes cakes every month. Mel Wofford, assisted by his wife, Martha, plays Santa Claus. Rebecca Terry and Irene Whited give manicures at Autumn Care. Pastor Rusty Lucas offers a chapel service once a month and gives special communions twice a year.

Karen Herndon helps with the newsletters, among other things. Evelyn Eller and Donna Swanson call bingo games. Susie Sidden mends residents’ clothing with her considerable sewing skills. Mick Eller and his wife, Phyllis, sing monthly for the residents, along with many other entertainers.

By shouting out some names, Crowley was just giving a taste of all of the volunteers at Thursday’s luncheon. They included volunteers on weekends who “keep the light going at Autumn Care,” Crowley said, and also an “After 5 Group,” whose participants drop in for visits after work on weekdays.

The luncheon included a quick Easter egg hunt and drawings for prizes. Each of the volunteers left for home with an adult Easter basket in further appreciation of their help.

“Hasn’t it been awhile since you’ve had Easter baskets?” Crowley asked.

For the folks at Bible Methodist, it might be at least 20 years.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.