Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Health Care Hero Finalist: Ruth Leibowitz

The Maryland Daily Record's Health Care Heroes awards ceremony honors special caregivers who exemplify extraordinary commitment to their profession. The breakfast to honor the 2010 finalists is on Wednesday, March 24, but before the big day we wanted to use this space to profile the nominees.

Eighty-year-old Ruth Leibowitz has been volunteering at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital since 2006. During that time, she has completed over 3,100 hours of service. In addition to her work at Levindale, Ruth is also a volunteer for both the Greater Chesapeake & Potomac Blood Region of the American Red Cross and the state chapter of the Red Cross.

At Levindale, Ruth provides all the administrative support for the volunteer department, often running the department when the coordinator is away. She tracks all the hours for approximately 150 volunteers.

Although the administrative work is very detailed and time consuming, the majority of Ruth’s time is spent organizing the volunteers who knit and crochet lap robes and blankets for the residents, as well as those who sew walker bags for our residents/patients and clients. She also knits and crochets herself.

Ruth started a one-woman campaign to have all the yarn and material donated so the volunteers could be given all the necessary supplies to make the much-needed items for the residents. She has written letters to area businesses so that there is a constant supply of material and yarn, which is donated. She will drive to the upholsterers to pick up large donated bolts of material.

Now every patient, resident, or client who needs a blanket or walker bag can have one. The volunteer department distributes between 10-20 blankets per month. In 2006 the knitters completed 392 hours, and in 2009 they completed an amazing 5,134 hours.

When it was brought to her attention that the women did not have proper head coverings to wear in the synagogue at Levindale, Ruth purchased the material and spent hours making head coverings so that all the women could have them for the high holidays.

These items that Ruth makes sure are always available really do make a difference to our residents, patients and clients. It’s the personal touch that makes Levindale seem a little more like home. It’s these unique gifts that brighten the day for the people when they receive them.

When Ruth isn’t busy getting materials making blankets or keeping the volunteer office running smoothly, she still finds time to visit with residents or help out with special functions when needed.

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