Local volunteer named national Volunteer of the Year

Saturday, August 31, 2019
Named Missouri Health Care Association District 4 Volunteer of the Year, Richard Cole visits with Lacoba resident Margaret Whitlock to go over a Bible study lesson he dropped off. Cole has also been named American Health Care Association’s 2019 Volunteer of the Year. Melonie Roberts/reporter@monett-times.com

Richard Cole honored for 15 years of service at Lacoba Homes

Richard Cole, from Aurora Baptist Temple ministry, was nominated for American Health Care Association’s 2019 Volunteer of the Year in recognition of his dedication to delivering Bible studies to residents, not only at Lacoba, but at six other area long-term care facilities.

He has volunteered about 25 hours per month at Lacoba for 15 years.

Cole was awarded the recognition just two weeks after being named Missouri Health Care Association District 4 Volunteer of the Year.

“Richard has provided many things for our residents throughout the years, including the distribution of embroidered quilts with personal messages, Christmas gifts and other items commemorating holidays and other celebrations,” his nomination letter said. “We recognize the magnitude of his financial generosity has been in the thousands of dollars. Although he is not a minister or clergy, Richard provides spiritual needs for our residents as requested, and many times this has occurred just prior to their passing. All these things are nice and special, but the most important item Richard brings is his binding friendship and the personal relationships he has built with our residents.”

In addition, the letter said Cole would bring in entertainers and programs at his own expense, motivating residents who would not normally participate in daily activities to attend. He takes time to visit with every resident, engaging them in conversation and building personal relationships with each individual. If a resident is not eating, Cole will ask what their favorite meal is and purchase the meal immediately.

Cole has also observed holidays with residents and staff, taking them gifts and mementos in celebration.

The letter also outlined Cole’s serving as a mentor to young adults, showing them the importance of giving, especially to the elderly. He brings young volunteers to Lacoba throughout the year to interact with residents.

“Richard is a shining star and brings happiness for many in the midst of the chaos and pain that is so often involved in healthcare,” the letter said. “Space does not allow a list of all the positive aspects Richard brings to our residents, but it is safe to say he provides comfort, friendship and is a true blessing to the facility.”

Mike Baldus, executive director at Lacoba Homes, Susan Barton, R.N. And director of nursing at the facility, and resident Ruby Garoutte also wrote similar letters of support for Cole’s nomination.

Cole will be attending the 70th annual American Health Care Association’s annual convention and expo in Orlando in October to receive his award.

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