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Silvers brightens holiday for patients

December 15, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Sharron Silvers will not let the physical limitations of patients at the Western Maryland Hospital Center prevent them from being able to participate in Christmas traditions.

Silvers, the hospital's volunteer coordinator, guides and helps arrange trips where patients at the facility are driven around Washington County, giving them a chance to look at the holiday decorations and lights.

Silvers also arranges for the patients to make cookies for Christmas so they can offer cookies to their families when they visit, or just enjoy some themselves, she said.

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Working with volunteers throughout the area, Silvers also arranges for groups to sing Christmas carols to the patients, while the Woodland Garden Club donates and decorates 13 Christmas trees at the hospital.

A group of eighth-graders from Northern Middle School, with Silvers' help, decorated the doors of many of the 92 patients' doors with bows, ribbons and other colorful designs.

Christmas Day at the hospital "is a spectacular day," complete with a holiday party and the opening of presents given to patients by friends and strangers, she said.

For the patients, this is something special, but for Silvers it's also part of her dream job, in which she said she regularly is inspired by the patients' actions and attitudes.

Working at the hospital, first as a housekeeper and later as the volunteer coordinator, she always will remember a conversation with the family of a patient.

"You brighten him up every morning when you come in," a family member told her, she said.

That impact helps her persevere, she said.

She always wants to do more, thinking of new ways to improve the patients' lives, she said.

When asked if the patients give each other Christmas presents, she immediately turns the question into a proposal, wondering aloud if that is something she can coordinate and arrange in the future.

"Without question, Western Maryland Hospital Center's residents will be enjoying a very special holiday season due to Sharron's efforts," said Linn Hendershot, the hospital's communications director.

"She is a really good help with the patients," Dennis McMillen, 32, a hospital patient for about four years, said after helping make Christmas cookies.

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