When Michelle Schultz began working in recreation at Waterloo's Pinehaven Nursing Home 12 years ago, volunteer Ruthie Thoman was already a fixture in the home. Twice a week and sometimes more often than that, Ruthie has been coming to Pinehaven for nearly 30 years, always with her kind heart open and a smile upon her face to brighten things around her.
To mark volunteer week, the Pinehaven family paid special tribute to Ruthie’s countless contributions since 1991, while recognizing all the volunteers who offer themselves to the home.
“I thought it was important to highlight Ruthie because of her undying dedication . . . and her commitment to make Pinehaven a better and more comfortable place for our residents,” says Michelle, who is now the director of recreation and volunteer coordinator at Pinehaven. “She’s definitely an important part of our community.”
Ruthie can usually be found on Tuesdays during the weekly tearoom sing-along, often sitting with residents helping them keep time with the music that flows from the piano. With Ruthie at their side it seems the residents are a little more engaged, their level of enjoyment that much brighter. She also helps with the regular church services, rarely misses a special event and she never forgets a birthday.
“It’s just so thoughtful that she goes outside of her commitments to be part of our recreation team,” Michelle says. “Whenever we need a little more assistance, she’s always willing to help out.”
Reflecting on the selfless service of the devoted volunteer, Michelle says she has learned much over the years by watching Ruthie in action.
“I learned the importance of dedication and showing up for your team,” Michelle says, “because people count on you and we’ve really come to count on Ruthie. We really notice when she’s not here, we miss having our full team on board.”
Ruthie also embodies the spirit of being present in every moment while taking the time to truly get to know the people she serves and works alongside – the fact that she never misses a team member’s birthday and always has a card to go with it, for example, illustrates Ruthie’s kindness.
“She is so special to Pinehaven,” Michelle says.