2019 Volunteer Appreciation Awards


Debby Henry Award

Angeline Tellis

Angie TellisThis year’s Debby Henry Award is given to Angeline Tellis. This award was established in 1996 in memory of Debby Henry, Volunteer Service Director from 1980 to 1995. It is awarded to an outstanding volunteer who has at least 5 years of service, a minimum of 500 hours and who best exemplifies the “Spirit of Volunteerism”. Angeline has been a devoted volunteer at BIDMC for over ten years. Anyone who walks the halls of BIDMC on a regular basis has likely received a warm smile or cheerful greeting from Angeline, whom you will often find relaxing in Cozy Corner or in the Cafeteria before the start of her shift. Angie helps in the volunteer office, doing data entry, welcoming visitors, and brightening the days of everyone she encounters. Her beautiful heart and her love for BIDMC radiates through her commitment to service, her boundless enthusiasm, and her caring, humble nature. Angeline truly embodies the “Spirit of Volunteerism” at BIDMC.


Jack Arvedon Award

Randy Gonchar

Randy GoncharThis award is given annually to a volunteer who has contributed a minimum of 100 hours, and shown the most flexibility, commitment and positive attitude over the year. This year’s award goes to Randy Gonchar. Randy has served over 100 hours in the past year, and 500 hours since he became a Patient/Family Advisor in 2010. Randy became co-chair of the Hospital-Wide Patient/Family Advisory Council (PFAC) in 2018. He also serves on numerous programs and projects, including the Advisor Rounding pilot project and Health Care Associates PFAC and task forces. Randy was invited to be a presenter at two national conferences over the past year. In February, he was honored with the Orme Partnership Award for his work on the Advisor Rounding program. Randy has demonstrated extraordinary flexibility and has come through countless times when someone has needed last minute assistance, always with a cheerful demeanor. His dedication to patient and family engagement at BIDMC has been remarkable, and one does not have to look far to see an example of an improvement in which Randy was involved.


Ambassador Award

Marjorie Keyser

Marjorie KeyserThe Ambassador award honors a volunteer who represents the medical center with a consistently positive attitude towards all patients, visitors and staff, and who has volunteered a minimum of 150 hours. This year, this award goes to Marjorie Keyser. Marjorie has been a committed book cart volunteer since 2016, delivering books, magazines, crossword puzzles, and other enjoyments and distractions to patients. She also brings the “Take 5” cart to employees. What makes Marjorie such an important member of the care team is not the material items she delivers, but rather her kind, compassionate, and selfless nature. Her bright sense of humor and sunny disposition fill the hallways as she travels from floor to floor greeting everyone she passes with a smile. Marjorie goes the extra mile for patients and staff members, making every effort to fulfill special requests. No stranger to volunteerism, Marjorie has also volunteered outside of BIDMC at the Brookline Senior Center, Americorps, VNA, Big Sisters, Horizons for Homeless Children, and Rosie’s Place. BIDMC is so fortunate to have Marjorie helping brighten the experiences of patients, families, and employees.


Special Recognition

Geoffrey Patten

Pause for PawsVolunteer Services is delighted to recognize Geoffrey Patton, Chief Administrative Officer, Department of Orthopedics, for his generous contributions toward BIDMC’s Pet Therapy Visitation and Pause for Paws programs, as well as for the hours of assistance he has spent caring for service animals of our patients. Each week therapy dogs from Caring Canines provide cuddles, love, and attention to patients and families on our inpatient units. Geoffrey has been a dedicated dog escort for several years, and has helped train several other escorts. He has also helped launch and promote the Pause for Paws program, which provides dog therapy visits to employees. The positive impact that these furry friends have had on BIDMC’s patients and employees is unquestionable, and we are so fortunate to have Geoff as a champion of these important programs.


Evening Stars, Weekend Wonders Award

Briana Mastel

Briana MastelThis year’s Evening Stars, Weekend Wonders award goes to Briana Mastel. Established in 2009, this award is given each year to volunteer who has contributed a minimum of 100 hours, and shown commitment and positive attitude “shine a light” on patients during the evening and weekend hours. Briana volunteers in the fast-paced Emergency Department on Saturday nights, helping nurses and physicians attend to the needs of patients and their family member. She loves to interact with patients and try to make their stays in the Emergency Department as comfortable as possible. Briana has also enthusiastically jumps right in to help train new Emergency Department volunteers by having them shadow her. A physician said of Briana: “Briana has an amazing ability to really focus on people when she interacts - you always have her complete attention and the feeling like you’re important to her. Her smile lights up the room, and anyone’s mood. When she commits to something, you know it’s as good as done.”


Youth Leadership Award

Ashanthi Snell

Ashanthi SnellThis award was acknowledges leadership and service by a volunteer 18 or under who has volunteered for at least 1 year, contributed a minimum of 100 hours and who exemplifies leadership skills as a model to other volunteers. This year’s recipient is Ashanthi Snell, a volunteer at the BIDMC Lexington facility where she is an Officer Helper, assisting with administrative projects, holiday decorating, customer service, and checking in patients. Her supervisor states “Ashanthi demonstrates a maturity that far exceeds those of most students her age. It is a pleasure to work with her and I look forward to introducing her to more challenging tasks in the near future.” Ashanthi was also a member of BIDMC’s 2016 Summer Health Corp class. In addition, she has helped out at her local food pantry, served meals at Rosie’s Place in Boston, volunteered with various church-sponsored programs and children’s programs, and helped with Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts. Athanthi’s thoughtfulness, respect for others, desire to help others, and stewardship of community needs are exceptional and we are honored to highlight her achievements.


Rose Award

Casey Yeong

Casey YeongThe Rose award was established in memory of Debby Henry, Volunteer Services Director from 1980 to 1995. It is awarded annually to one outstanding Parent Connection volunteer who has at least 5 years of service, a minimum of 500 hours and who best exemplifies the “spirit of volunteerism.” This year’s Rose award is given to Casey Yeong. Casey Yeong has served as a mentoring mom with the Parent Connection since 2011. She has reached out and supported countless new families whose primary language is Mandarin or Cantonese, helping them navigate the cultural differences between American and Chinese newborn care. A parent whom she has supported said of Casey, “Casey was like a good friend. She was patient and helped me to learn not only how to care for my baby, but also how to care for myself.”


The Agress Award

Stephanie Harriston-Diggs and Risa Burns

Harriston-Diggs and BurnsThe Agress Award was established in 2018 to honor and applaud the devotion, stewardship and care that Trudy Agress gave to BIDMC where, with her husband Alfred, they established the Volunteer Workshop that supported many areas of the hospital for over 50 years. This award acknowledges a volunteer who exemplifies the criteria that made Trudy and her team in the Volunteer Workshop a legend at BIDMC: punctual weekly attendance; accuracy regarding projects that enhance the care and safety of patients and staff; devotion to the mission of the hospital and its core values of integrity, respect, compassion, excellence, and stewardship; flexibility and determination regarding tasks and deadlines.

This year the Agress Award is given to former BIDMC Volunteer Director Stephanie Harriston-Diggs and BIDMC Dr. Risa Burns for their devotion, dedication, and flexibility in making pet therapy visits available to the patient population on Deaconess Four that began Christmas Day, 2009.

Risa made available her two pet therapy-trained standard poodles, Cosmo, then Newman, on weekends and Stephanie always volunteered to be her escort. When our second Pet Therapy Program was established, Pause for Paws, whereby medical directors could request pet therapy visits for their staff, Risa and Stephanie again rose to this challenge in spite of their work schedule obligations.

We are grateful for their participation in the BIDMC Pet Therapy program, a volunteer experience that brings joy and happiness to so many patients and staff. Thanks to their compassion and stewardship we are pleased to recognize Stephanie Harriston-Diggs and Dr. Risa Burns with the 2019 Agress Award.