Einstein’s Volunteer Program Contagious with Generosity

In her name and memory, a new award was added to the annual Volunteer Recognition Luncheon. The Barbara Levey Award was given to an outstanding volunteer who prides his or herself in Einstein and its patients.

With a collective 36,200 hours of caring service completed at Einstein Healthcare Network in the last year, these volunteers deserved a little recognition. 
So, Einstein Healthcare Network celebrated its do-gooders with the 61st annual Volunteer Recognition Luncheon on April 13 at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel.
But for Laura Romano, director of the Department of Volunteer, Chaplaincy, Language and Cultural Services, and the rest of the Einstein staff and volunteers, there was one person missing this year: Barbara Levey.
Levey worked in Einstein’s volunteer department for almost 30 years as the office manager, and this annual event was her favorite, according to Romano.
In her name and memory, a new award was added to the ceremony. The Barbara Levey Award was given to an outstanding volunteer who prides his or herself in Einstein and its patients.
The new award was given to Marguerite Brown, who has been a volunteer for four years. She often arranges appointments for patients and helps them get where they need to go.
She said she was surprised to be acknowledged and was honored, even tearing up at the ceremony because she knew Levey well.
Brown added that not every day is easy in the hospital. On those rough days when she needed a smile, Levey was always there. 
“I’m here because I love what I do,” she said. “All the office staff is like family. You walk in and they smile, make you feel welcome. Any questions that I had, she was always there to answer them. … Barbara was always there and with a smile.”
Levey passed away in February, but Romano said she continued to work up until the end. This summer would have marked her 30th year at Einstein, but with all the extra hours she committed to it over the years, Romano said she well surpassed that milestone.
“It’s always important to honor the people who gave so much of themselves to Einstein,” Romano said. “It’s hard to imagine anyone giving much more than Barbara did.”
The award was created in part by Levey’s family — some of whom attended the luncheon — which Romano said they thought was the best way to honor her. 
“The volunteers were just so near and dear to her heart,” she added. “She loved planning the annual recognition luncheon for them. That was her baby. She loved organizing the details from the caterer, to the bus to take people who didn’t have transportation from Einstein to KI, to keeping track of the responses, ordering the gifts to be given out. I mean, really, she organized all the details.”
Levey loved to give back to those volunteers — there’s somewhere between 300 and 450 in any given year who help out on average four hours a week.
About 100 volunteers attended the luncheon, taking a break from wheeling patients from opposite ends of the hospital, cuddling newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit, filling pudding cups for the dietary department, folding linens, helping with clerical work or serving in dozens of other ways.
And across the hospital, most everyone certainly knew and loved Levey. 
Romano remembered having to share the news to everyone in the hospital that she passed, and “it was pretty incredible how many people in all areas of the hospital knew her and cared about her and were moved to tears upon hearing she had passed.”
Even the man who made the trophies and plaques that Levey ordered each year for the luncheon was sad to hear the news because he worked with her for so many years.
The same goes for the head of Einstein’s housekeeping department, who Romano said was moved to tears.
“Barbara was one of the most loved staff people you could possibly imagine,” Romano said, adding that she always greeted people with a smile and was eager to help.
“Einstein meant everything to her, and that was contagious. It was her second family, and we could all feel that.” 
Contact: rkurland@jewishexponent.com; 215-832-0737


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