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Award-Winning Volunteer Program Returns to Concordia

September 17, 2013

You walk into a room full of objects representing memories a crystal vase purchased in France during a 20th wedding anniversary trip, a mahogany marble-top dresser handed down two generations, a painting created by a granddaughter for her senior project in art school, the floral-patterned curtains that match the quilted comforter so perfectly and much more. Each picture and item depicts a different life event or something that holds value.

There is a bouquet of lilies from a past visitor, providing a pleasant aroma to the area. You sit down next to the aged woman who knows she has little time left in this world, the woman whose life is shown before you all around the room. You see her family and friends, her hobbies, her interests; anything and everything that is important to her is somehow in this room. She reaches for your hand, searching for comforting contact and a compassionate voice. You say a prayer with the woman, listen to her talk about her life and gently comfort her as she is gracefully taken from her worldly bindings to be with God.

You are an "Angel on Call."

Alberta Rettig (front) is one of the original Angels on Call. She was officially re-pinned recently, as the program was brought back. Also pictured: Volunteer Coordinator Erin Middleton, Skilled Activities Director Roberta Breninghouse and Alberta's husband Al. Bertha Rettig (front) is one of the original Angels on Call. She was officially re-pinned recently, as the program was brought back. Also pictured: Volunteer Coordinator Erin Middleton, Skilled Activities Director Roberta Breninghouse and Bertha's husband Al.

"Angels on Call" is an award-winning program from Good Samaritan Hospice that provides volunteers to people who have very little time left in their lives. "Angels" are people who have a desire to add physical, emotional and spiritual support to those who are in their end of life hours; they are "on call" to be with the patients at any time, day or night. However, volunteers can choose what days and times they wish to be available.

The "angels" are there to provide a sense of comfort and to put the patient at ease. The last few moments of life can be a beautiful thing, but if experiencing it alone, the peace one should have before being with the Lord can go unfelt.

"These people aren't necessarily suffering; they are in a wonderful place and are being taken care of," Pat Mrozinski, one of the original members of the "Angels on Call" program, said. "They just need someone to hold their hand, comfort them and talk to them soothingly about their family and life."

Pat, a Haven resident, moved to Concordia from Natrona Heights in 2000. She described her time as an "angel: "It was more rewarding than I thought it would ever be. You need to have compassion for people and be able to concentrate on helping the patient feel comfortable."

One instance Pat vividly remembers is when she said the rosary with a Catholic woman, and while she was praying, the woman's lips moved with her words; she passed shortly after finishing the rosary.

"I believe she needed something familiar from her own religion to make her comfortable enough to go with God," Pat said.

The Pennsylvania Association for Non-Profit Homes for the Aging (PANPHA) gave "Angels on Call" top honors as Volunteer Group of the Year in 2003. Now, 10 years later, the award-winning "Angels on Call" program has been re-introduced at the Concordia at Cabot campus.

The group is in need of volunteers who share the belief that no one should be alone at this important time of life. Good Samaritan Hospice and Concordia staff will host training sessions. Anyone who wishes to volunteer for this program are invited to learn more about "Angels on Call" to see if this ministry is part of your calling. Contact Erin Middleton by e-mail at or call 724-933-8888 for more information or to get involved.

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