The annual Gift of Life Volunteer Recognition Ceremony, a day where we recognize the compassion, dedication, and hard work our volunteers bring to the Gift of Life community, took place on June 9th.
The Family House had the opportunity to present four awards—the Home Cook Heroes Award, the Heartman Award, the Fundraising Ambassador Award, and the Guest Services Award. We are so incredibly proud and humbled by all of our volunteers and couldn’t have been happier to honor them in this special way.
We presented our Home Cook Heroes Award to New Vision Pioneers, who, led by Jody, have been volunteering with us since the spring of 2015. Since then, they have come in 36 times to date and have served nearly 2,000 meals to families who came a long way to receive treatment in Philadelphia.
The Heartman Award was given to Janice Schwartz Donahue. Janice has been volunteering with Gift of Life for over 20 years, first getting involved with her daughter, Jessica, who was a heart transplant recipient. Sadly, Jessica passed away, but Janice continues to carry on her legacy by coordinating Jessie’s Day with her other daughter, Laura, every year to give the gift of education to organ transplant recipients who are looking to attend college.
Janice is also a weekly volunteer at the Family House. Every Wednesday, you’ll find her in the kitchen warmly welcoming and supporting the Home Cook Heroes volunteer groups, giving tours, setting up and cleaning up, or doing whatever is needed to make sure the kitchen operations are running smoothly.
She has become part of the Family House “family” and we just love having her with us each week. To date, Janice has contributed over 900 hours of her time to supporting the Family House!
This year, the 2018 Fundraising Ambassador Award, which recognizes a volunteer, group, or organization that has demonstrated exceptional leadership in coordinating, motivating, and successfully completing fundraising efforts for Gift of Life Family House, was given to the Penkala Family.
In an effort to honor his son Paulie and raise awareness about organ and tissue donation, Paul Penkala, along with family and friends, hosts an annual golf tournament and graciously donates all of the money raised to Gift of Life Family House.
In 2011, the family pledged $25,000 to underwrite the Family House resident laundry room in their son’s name, because, as Paul put it, “Paulie was always particular about ironing his clothing.”
Even though they fulfilled this pledge a few years ago, the Penkalas continue to host their outing to support our Adopt-A-Family Program.
The Penkalas also volunteer in the House as Home Cook Heroes, preparing and serving home-cooked meals to our guests, and in the community by participating in speaking engagements, sharing their donation story, and spreading awareness for organ and tissue donation.
The Penkala family has accomplished so much and we are so grateful for all you’ve done for the Family House, our transplant families, and the transplant community.
Lastly, our Guest Service Award was given to Ginneh Earle. Ginneh began volunteering at the Family House in 2014 and has generously contributed over 400 hours of her time since joining our team.
Anyone who has been at the Family House on a night where Ginneh is helping knows that they are instantly in good hands, as she makes sure that our Home Cook Heroes groups have everything they need, and always doing so with a welcoming smile. She often will stay at the Family House until after 9pm, making sure several times that there is really nothing else she can do to help!
In addition to being a friendly presence at the Family House on a weekly basis, Ginneh also has volunteered at the Dash and President’s Reception.
Ginneh does not have a direct connection to transplantation, but says that she just wants to help, and we can’t thank her enough for that. Her leadership, kindness, and commitment to support and comfort transplant patients, families, caregivers, and fellow volunteers is truly admirable.
Our volunteers play such an important role at the Family House and we are so grateful for their help—thank you so much!