National Volunteer Week is a time to highlight the work of volunteers around the world and inspire others with their stories. The Wilf Campus for Senior Living appreciates the work of our volunteers and volunteer coordinators throughout our community. In honor of National Volunteer Week, we’re sharing the stories of two dedicated Stein Hospice volunteers — who just so happen to have grown up in the same New Jersey neighborhood.
Arnie is a retired pharmacist who has been volunteering with Stein Hospice since May of 2016. In his spare time, the Somerset resident enjoys volunteering and participating in a barbershop harmony group called the Morris Music Men.
How did you first get involved with hospice volunteering?
I became interested in hospice volunteering after my wife passed away due to mesothelioma. While taking care of her, I began to visualize myself spending more time helping others who are going through a similar situation. I ended up seeing an ad for Stein Hospice in a newspaper and gave them a call.
What kind of things do you do while volunteering?
I mostly serve as a companion for individuals. This can be anything from taking a walk with them, watching a TV program together, or even sitting with them in silence. You learn what each person needs from you. Sometimes the patient can’t even talk any more, but a lot of the time you can tell that they can understand what I’m there for.
Do you have any memories you’d like to share?
I was a companion to a man for two years. He was 107 years old when he passed. I wasn’t even assigned to him personally, we just met in the common area of a VA hospital and he decided that I would be spending time with him. I’d talk to him and take him outside when we saw each other. Another memory is of a woman who I only spent one day with before she passed away. I found out that she liked music, so I brought in some classical CDs and played them for her. I hope that I make a positive impact in our time spent together.
What has volunteering meant to you?
It’s a great feeling knowing that you’re helping people in a special time. It’s also nice to feel recognized even when you don’t realize how much you’re doing for someone. I once spent time just sitting and holding the hand of a friend of mine who was on hospice, and before I left — she thanked me. Moments like those mean a lot.
Lenny Robinowitz has been volunteering with Stein Hospice for over 10 years, beginning in March of 2009. He is a retired CPA, now 84 years old, who spends much of his time volunteering, along with helping his relatives.
Tell me about how you got started volunteering for Stein Hospice.
Well, I have a philosophy about three things that are very important in life: love, gratitude and what a person can do for others. I try to keep these things in mind each day and use whatever abilities I have to help those around me. Hospice care stands for each of these things, so when looking for a way to spend my time, I found hospice volunteering very fitting. I found out about Stein Hospice specifically while I was volunteering at Regency Jewish Heritage Nursing Home, which was then the Central NJ Jewish Home for the Aged. Later I decided to continue my volunteer service with Stein Hospice.
What kind of work do you do with Stein Hospice?
Before the pandemic, I volunteered at an average of three times a week. I help out with anything that’s needed whether that be playing cards, delivering food to patients, or spending time with them. I’ve found Sara Culang (of Stein Hospice) to be a wonderful volunteer manager, and it’s been a pleasure to work with her. The entire hospice staff are very helpful and an important part of the team – each and every one of them.
Are there any memories that you’d like to share?
I’ve been doing this for a long time, and there are lots of stories to share. But one that comes to mind is of a patient who only had one relative to visit her, about once a month. I would help her son out by doing grocery shopping for her. He made it so easy for me by listing the groceries in order of each aisle of the store, so that I went in one direction the whole time before checking out. Another unforgettable patient who I would see twice a week was a 107 year old man named George. He was born in Africa and told me many stories about his friend, Winston Churchill.
What has hospice volunteering meant to you?
It’s been an unforgettable experience. I really feel a sense of accomplishment knowing that I’ve given my time to helping others. It’s also great to be acknowledged for that work. I’ve truly enjoyed working with Sara and all of the caregivers at Stein Hospice. It’s a wonderful organization.
Reconnecting through Service
Interestingly enough, Arnie Beilin and Lenny Robinowitz both grew up in the same neighborhood in Newark, NJ. Over 70 years later, after different life paths taken, the two find themselves reconnected and sharing the same passion for volunteering. “I was reading a newspaper article one day and noticed a familiar name. Lenny’s father was the kosher butcher in my neighborhood, and I remember spending time with him when my mother went to visit the store,” shared Arnie. After finding Lenny’s contact information, Arnie gave him a call and the two became reacquainted. “We live in the same area and both volunteer with Stein Hospice now. He’s a very nice guy and it’s nice to speak with him from time to time,” said Lenny Robinowitz.
Stein Hospice and the Wilf Campus for Senior Living would like to thank Arnie Beilin, Lenny Robinowitz, and all of our volunteers for their contributions, which are so meaningful to our patients and their families. We would also like to thank Sara Culang, Volunteer Services Manager, for working with our volunteers, patients, and their families since Stein Hospice’s opening 15 1/2 years ago.