Extraordinary volunteers at Mahoning Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation Center were feted at the annual Volunteer Appreciation Tea held Friday at the center.

Serving as master of ceremonies was Cindy Swatt, activity director.

Swatt introduced Michael Mickey, CEO and administrator, who thanked the volunteers on behalf of the staff and the families for their dedication

"You have a true character of selfless giving on a regular basis," said Mickey. "Your visits have brought joy and brighten the day. You have come for a long time."

Mickey thanked the volunteers for taking the time to think of others.

"This selfless giving is so precious," he said. "Thank you for all the wonderful things you do."

Swatt said that this year's theme was, "Exceptional People Extraordinary Hearts."

She said "exceptional" is that which does not follow the usual, and "extraordinary" is remarkable, usually great. She said that the words got her to thinking that when she thought of extraordinary heart, Mother Teresa came to mind. She then gave a biography of Mother Teresa's life's work.

She said that in the community, she thought of volunteer firefighters, teachers who go the extra mile for their students; pastors, priests, Sunday School teachers and special friends who stand by when people go through tough times as exceptional people.

She also noted that a parent, grandparent or other relative made a real difference because of their remarkable, unusually great heart.

"It is through our heart that our thoughts, words and actions flow," she said. "We are so thankful that out of your extraordinary hearts flows a love and desire to serve our residents."

Swatt thanked the volunteers, "While you may not believe you are a person equal to or as well known as Mother Teresa, you have chosen the opportunity to make a difference in the world."

She said that the volunteers at Mahoning Valley center are instrumental in helping change the lives of the residents.

She said the staff sees small miracles when volunteers offer a smile, hand shake or gentle touch, words of encouragement and hope or by simply taking the time to listen to what a resident has to say.

"Each of you has a special purpose in life and we count it a blessing that you have chosen to give of your time, love, talents to serve our residents."

Volunteers assist with religious services, hymn sings, bingo, cards, crocheting, knitting and other handcrafts, transportation, administration, gardening and entertainment.