Maimonides Medical Center Honors Its Volunteers

New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray Congratulates Maimonides Medical Center Volunteer Of The Year Shyfra Scharf. Photo By Kelly Mena

While Maimonides Medical Center physicians, nurses and all their support staff and technicians are the frontlines in making the facility one of the city and area’s top medical institutions, it is the volunteers that are often its heart and soul.

And more than a hundred medical staff and local residents packed Paradise Manor, 5802 New Utrecht Avenue in Borough Park to celebrate and honor the important work the more than 1,800 Maimonides volunteers do day in and day out in an appreciation ceremony and lunch .

“We all want to lead happy lives, but I think we also want to lead meaningful lives. All of you [volunteers] share a meaningful gift with us [Maimonides staff] in that what you are doing is meaningful. I think you are doing something special by volunteering in a way that is so meaningful to us and others and the patients and families that we serve,” said Maimonides President & CEO Kenneth Gibbs.

 Shyfra Scharf, who has an almost 50 year history of volunteering with Maimonides, was this year’s honorary volunteer. She started her work with the hospital back in 1971 after fleeing from the Holocaust in Poland, then relocating to France before finding her way to Brooklyn.

Scharf started the Bikur Cholim Women’s Division in Borough Park in the early 1990’s in the living room of her own home. She served hot meals, held fundraising events and even paid for sick patients hospital bills. The group still volunteers regularly with the hospital and serving a legacy of hot soup.

“I volunteered for a place that needed me,” said Scharf, who originally wanted to be a doctor, and was honored with a portrait of herself with her husband.

New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray Congratulates Maimonides Medical Center Volunteer Of The Year Shyfra Scharf. Photo By Kelly Mena

Seated from left are City Council Member Greenfield, New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray and Maimonides President & CEO Kenneth Gibbs. Photo by Kelly Mena

Many of the volunteers in the room were visibly moved in feeling the appreciation, with some being past patients of Maimonides who wanted to give back. Among these were Thomas Shine and Ewir Magnus, both of whom suffered heart attacks before joining the Mended Hearts organization to give cardiac patients a relatable and comforting person to turn to while in the hospital.

“When you meet the patients that can listen to you and converse with you and tell them you have been in the same boat as them. They feel better because they know what you’re talking about, it’s a good feeling when you leave there,” said Magnus.

Also in attendance were New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray and City Councilman David Greenfield (D-Boro Park, Bensonhurst, Midwood).

“The volunteers do so much. You can see how many of them there are here. They [volunteers] are kind of like a bridge to helping families navigate services and doing all those little things that families who are in stress don’t always have time to do. Whether it’s bringing them newspapers, or getting them food from the kitchen. Whatever it is, there are so many little things that can make a patient’s stay so much easier,” said McCray.

“The backbone of Maimonides is it’s volunteers. If you ask people who have been to Maimonides they will tell you that one of the things that makes it so wonderful is the interaction the patients have with the volunteers,” said Greenfield.

(Source: Kings County Politics)


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