The Lehighton campus of Blue Mountain Health System celebrated National Volunteer Week by honoring its volunteers and Auxiliary members on Thursday.

Auxiliary president Henry Bisbing welcomed the group, thanking the men and women for their time as volunteers during the past year.

"To be a volunteer takes generosity, a willingness to give to others, and the ability to put yourselves into other peoples' shoes," he said. Bisbing noted that volunteers also need patience and dedication, among other virtues.

"You've shown these quantities and so much more," he said. "Here's to everyday heroes."

Bisbing also announced that volunteers dedicated 10,633 hours to the hospital in 2012. The value of these volunteer hours is estimated to be approximately $225,000 – but the value of a volunteer's smiling face when greeting the hospitals' guests and patients is priceless.

Joseph Guardiani, the hospital's vice president of development and director of volunteer services, and President and CEO Andrew Harris also addressed the volunteers and thanked them for their service.

"We could not exist without all of you," said Harris. "You are so much a part of the family of Blue Mountain Health System." He noted that the health system's purpose as a not-for-profit hospital is to promote, maintain and restore the health of community members, and that this would not be possible without the help of volunteers, not only because of their dedicated service hours, but also because volunteers help to spread the word about Blue Mountain's purpose throughout the community.

"We need more members of the community to embrace us, and not just as patients," he said.

The Auxiliary also honored its longtime volunteers by recognizing those who have committed 10 or more years of service to the health system. These volunteers' names were added to the Carl S. Merluzzi Volunteer Recognition Board, which was created this year in honor of Merluzzi's retirement after 60 years of volunteer service.

Honored volunteers included: Juanita Alfieri, Helaine Barclay, Bonnie Burns, Ruth Brunner, Shirley Cherb, Nancy Dacosta, Denise Demarco, Alfred Feuerstein, Marie Haberman, Pamela Hawk, Dolores Hontz, Teresa Hunsicker, Charlotte Knappenberger, Doreen Kromer, Vicki Kromer, Pauline Lorchak, Art Mertz, Joan Mertz, Mary Ellen Poe, Audrey Redline, Bill Reed, George Rhoads, Joyce Ricciardi, Natalie Rodgers, and Shirley Stamm.

Guardiani added that the hospital is actively looking for new volunteers to serve both in the hospital and with the hospital's Meals on Wheels affiliation.

"We are critically low on the number of Meals on Wheels Volunteers," he added, noting that several volunteers have recently retired or passed away.

For more information about volunteering with the Blue Mountain Health System, call (610) 377-7350.