Thank you to our volunteer network at VHS!

National Volunteer Week logo 2024

Our team and communities appreciate the support of a network of volunteers who provide companionship, assistance and support to our residents, their loved ones and the staff. During National Volunteer Week, we are recognizing a few volunteers who have made a difference to our communities.

Virginia Health Services is lucky to have so many volunteers who give their time to our communities. Last year we highlighted those who provide church services at Coliseum, long-time volunteer at Walter Reed Ray Agtay, quilter and volunteer extraordinaire Gala Damato at The Hamilton Assisted Living, and Martha and Jerry Dodson at The Huntington Assisted Living, who do a craft each month with the residents.

Volunteers from Therapy Dogs International are so giving of their time, and their pets, visiting residents at several of our communities weekly. Master Gardeners from Hampton, Newport News and Walter Reed do craft sessions monthly with residents at Northampton, James River and Walter Reed.

There are many churches and individuals who host services, Bible studies and gospel music sessions across our communities.

At Northampton, Wanda has called Bingo for 32 years. She previously worked in the dietary department. “I love it,” she said.

We can’t do what we do without the kindness of our volunteers. Thank you to all who take the time!

Here are a few more volunteer stories:


Dottie James

Dottie James started volunteering to lead Bible study shortly after The Hamilton opened. Her aunt had moved in and shared with Dottie she missed church and Bible study.

“God kind of tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘you can do something about that,’” Dottie said.

She had led a Bible study group at The since, with a brief hiatus at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak and to deal with a personal health issue. She has led the group in-person and virtually in that time.

“I made the decision to do this for my aunt,” Dottie said. “I will come as long as I can be here.”

She has led Bible study, written Bible studies for her church and helped teach the upcoming group of leaders. She feels called to provide Bible study to those who need it off campus.

“These women miss church. They miss the fellowship of their church circles. They miss all of that,” Dottie said. “This gives them a chance. I’ve seen community build within this group and I love that.”

Bible study leader Dottie James

She said she teaches straight from the Bible – the group picks the book they want to go through.

“I try to teach everything in context. When there are places different churches may interpret differently, we acknowledge that and I have them share ‘what’s your experience with this topic,’” she said.

One resident has been with the group since foundation.

“The people here, the residents here are wonderful. They’re a little bit invisible in the community, but they have value, worth, they’re worth knowing and spending time with, and I love that I get to do that,” Dottie said.

“It’s a very supportive, welcoming place to volunteer. Kirstie is nothing short of amazing, she has so much energy. I appreciate all the support she gives to gather the women and help them get to the activity room for Bible study.”

Dottie has lived primarily on the Peninsula, and originally is from Newport News. She attended college at Virginia Tech and taught high school math in southwestern Virginia for two years before moving back east.

Dottie also is a creative person who likes to create using paper medium. She was one of seven original founders of Blue Skies Gallery in downtown Hampton, and was involved for seven years.

“I’m very proud we created something that’s still there,” she said. While it has changed formats over the years, its main concentration is still on displaying work by local artists.


Joyce Taylor

The residents at Lancashire love volunteer Joyce Taylor, and the feeling is mutual.

Joyce is a daily presence at Lancashire, volunteering for just about any activity, including Bingo and wine and cheese tastings. The former Lancashire dietary team member also occasionally eats lunch with a group of residents.

If she isn’t there, the residents will request Activity Director Amber Watson call and encourage her to visit.

“She’s like family,” Amber says.

The Lancaster County native is typically at Lancashire from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. most days.

“She’s a big help with everything,” Administrator Amy Payne says.


Kristy Gust

Kristy Gust has volunteered with Walter Reed for almost three years. What started as having Bible study with a friend who was a resident has grown to weekly Bible study sessions held in the dining room.

Fishers for Men Ministries also developed about three years ago, led by Kristy and Pastor D. “It blew up. God has expanded the territory,” Kristy said.

Supported by Petsworth Baptist Church and other church partners, the ministry offers two outreach events at Walter Reed each year. The group is hosting a “yard sale” for residents, plus food from Scoot’s BBQ, sno-cones and bluegrass music, on Saturday, April 27.

Kristy said the “yard sale” items are donated by church members and are free to residents. Once everyone has shopped, the “sale” is open to Walter Reed team members.

“We want to get them outside to do something they normally wouldn’t be able to do,” Kristy said. “We love, love, love those residents. They’re precious to god and they’re precious to us. … Also, the team does such a phenomenal job taking care of the residents. I know all of them by name and it’s a joy to work with them.”

Fishers of Men Ministries also hosts a holiday party for residents, their loved ones and the Walter Reed team. Kristy and Pastor D also do Bible study at the men’s and women’s prisons in Henrico and do street ministry at the bus station in Richmond.

Following a long illness, Kristy says she was saved and born again four years ago.

“I want to do what God’s called me to do now – love God and love people,” she said, adding volunteering is “something that more people should get involved with – it’s a blessing in blessing others, and brings deep sense of fulfillment when you can help somebody else.”

During events, several others from the church volunteer at Walter Reed.

“We’re thankful to be there. It’s a privilege and honor to work with them,” she said. “I look forward to being there and look forward to these outreaches.”


George Conway

You can find George Conway at York almost every afternoon. He visits his wife and also volunteers with the recreational therapy team to provide companionship and support for the residents.

He has a drawer of tools to do odd jobs around the activity room, including fixing bookcases. And he builds the frames for the residents’ completed puzzles to be displayed. There are several hanging on the walls of the activity room and in the dining room. Some are hung in resident rooms as well.

George Conway spends time daily at York, to visit his wife and other residents. He also builds frames for puzzles and other handyman help.

“I was here and I like working with people, being around people – and they needed some help in here,” he says of volunteering at York. “Just trying to make life more comfortable for (the residents). They don’t have anywhere else to be, why not make it more comfortable for them.”

No stranger to volunteering, George spent 32 years with Odyssey of the Mind as a judge and problem-solver (ending his run as state problem-solver). He was pulled out of retirement this year to be a judge. He also was a docent at Virginia Air and Space Center for about seven years and volunteered at Animal Aid Society no-kill shelter in Hampton for 10 years.

Fort Monroe was the final assignment for the retired Army lieutenant colonel – who did tours in Vietnam and Korea. He and his wife settled their family in York County because he was done moving around.

“People need people – and a lot of these folks don’t have anybody,” he said. “I try to come in and make them smile. I don’t stay very long, but I’m here every day for a couple of hours.”


Our VHS Hospice team is recruiting volunteers to help provide comfort and compassion to the individuals in their care and their loved ones.

“It’s really a privilege to work with these individuals,” says Julie, who has volunteered with Hospice for about six years.

VHS Hospice social worker and volunteer coordinator Ariane Minette says the team provides all training, including study guides and discussion of scenarios. Volunteering is about 90% companionship, she says.

“Volunteers should have empathy and commitment to the individuals and their families. We’re looking for people who want to engage with others,” she says.

Hospice is recruiting in all communities across the Peninsula, Williamsburg, York County and the Gloucester area. There are also opportunities to volunteer in the Hospice office, answering phones and responding to emails.

“We are very grateful for whatever time can be given,” Ariane says.

If being a volunteer with VHS Hospice is of interest to you, visit to learn more.

Volunteer with VHS

All of Virginia Health Services’ communities are happy to accept volunteers.

Church and youth groups, school service organizations, Greek life and other college organizations, and individuals are needed to help facilitate activities and provide social interaction and support to Residents.

VHS Hospice also is looking for volunteers interested in assisting those in end-of-life care and their caregivers.

Contact the community nearest you to apply and discuss options with our team.

Volunteer locations

Coliseum Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Address: 305 Marcella Road, Hampton, Virginia 23666

Phone: 757-827-8953

Contact: Shawn Hill, Activities Director

The Hamilton Assisted Living

Address: 113 Battle Road, Yorktown, Virginia 23692

Phone number: 757-243-8559

Contact: Kirstie Saunders, Activities Director

The Huntington Assisted Living

Address: 11143 Warwick Blvd., Newport News, Virginia 23601

Phone: 757-223-0888

Contact: Devyn Hotop, Activity Director

James River Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Address: 540 Aberthaw Ave., Newport News, Virginia 23601

Phone: 757-595-2273

Contact: Shawn Hanberry, Activity Director

Lancashire Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Address: 287 School St., Kilmarnock, Virginia 22482

Phone: 804-435-1684

Contact: Amber Watson, Activity Director

The Newport Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Address: 11141 Warwick Blvd., Newport News, Virginia 23601

Phone: 757-595-3733

Contact: Jamel DeCosta, Activity Director

Northampton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Address: 1028 Topping Lane, Hampton, Virginia 23666

Phone: 757-826-4922

Contact: Erica Donaldson, Activity Director

Walter Reed Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Address: 7602 Meredith Drive, Gloucester Courthouse, Virginia 23061

Phone: 804-693-6503

Contact: Julie Boothe, Activity Director

York Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Address: 113 Battle Road, Yorktown, Virginia 23692

Phone: 757-898-1491

Contact: Mary Garrity, Activity Director

VHS Hospice

Phone: 757-663-6276.

Contact: Ariane Minette, social work and volunteer coordinator


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