Irene Heckler, 81, has impacted countless lives in Lake County during her tenure as a volunteer with Hospice of the Western Reserve. She began volunteering in the hospital setting when Hospice only had six beds. Some twenty years later, Irene continues to volunteer with passion, enthusiasm and compassion. Last year, she devoted 291 hours to her volunteer vocation. She has been instrumental in various volunteer initiatives including the creation of the “Special Care Fund”, developed for patients and their families in need of anything from groceries to furniture. Irene helped start Hospice’s Alternative Home Committee, visiting patients in nursing and assisted living homes. Currently, Irene visits patients at a nursing home and Hospice House, and does record keeping as well at Hospice. Often, she collaborates with staff of Hospice of the Western Reserve and the nursing facilities when she visits patients. In addition to these weekly visits, she is a “vigil volunteer” where the objective is that no patient dies alone. Irene considers it a privilege to be with a patient and their family in the person’s final hours. Countless families in our community have felt her caring nature, kind words and presence.
During the past twenty years, Irene has served on the boards of St. John’s Home for Girls and New Directions Semi-Independent Living.
Irene has received numerous awards and recognitions for her service to the Lake County community. She is the recipient of the 1991 Book of Golden Deeds from Western Lake County Exchange Club. In 1997, The News-Herald acknowledged Irene’s community service in an article entitled, “Salute to Volunteers.”