Betty’s Volunteer Spotlight

Betty SebrightBetty Sebright is a Lakeland native and has been a wonderful and dedicated volunteer with VISTE for nearly three years.
After surviving her battle with cancer, Betty felt compelled to give back to the community who supported her through her hard days, prayed for her, and ultimately, helped her defeat cancer. At VISTE, she delivers birthday cakes to clients, assists in office responsibilities, and her ultimate favorite, putting together gift bags for clients who are 90 years of age and older.

“I love putting together those gift bags,” she says. “I even do my own shopping for little things to add to them and make them extra special. My mother died when she was 90, so it is a special thing to me to be able to give to those who have lived past that age.”

Betty was recognized as 2016’s Extraordinary Volunteer with the Elfried Pennekamp Memorial Award on April 6th. We are proud to honor her in this way.

Elfried Pennekamp was a man of service. He did not do the minimum – he went above and beyond in everything he did. He left a legacy in our community that still carries on today. We honor him annually as we present the Elfried Pennekamp Memorial Award for Extraordinary Service to an organization that has served VISTE’s clients throughout the years.

Betty started on a Monday morning at our front desk and dove right in, answering phones, helping clients, greeting volunteers and other guests. She has always been eager to learn, and is not afraid to ask questions, or make observations on how we can improve our processes. Soon, she began working two days a week, and today we often think of her as an extended staff member. We value her input and invite her to share ideas related to the jobs she does.  We recently converted to a new software system, and she has been instrumental in this conversion process. It would be very difficult to do without her help.

From the beginning, she has made regular phone calls to clients celebrating birthdays, or receiving pancake breakfasts, personal care boxes, Thanksgiving meals, and various other offerings we make throughout the year. Her pleasant and kind demeanor makes her relatable to clients, and it is not unusual to hear her telling them that she will be praying for them, or wishing them the best, or just lending a listening ear.

When we celebrate birthdays with our clients turning 90 or older, she not only makes the phone calls to offer the cakes, but she also delivers, and puts together the birthday goody bags, filled with items that she has either purchased herself, or collected from church members or local businesses. Each bag is made with love, and her special touch is evident with perfectly arranged tissue paper, or a special flower or trinket to celebrate each season.

Betty recently visited Erma, a VISTE client, celebrating her 100th birthday. She had taken a cake to Erma last year for her 99th birthday and couldn’t believe how sweet and spriteful she was in her age. She looked forward to visiting her lively new friend for her next birthday. When March 13, 2016 arrived, she and her husband delivered a cake to Erma’s home in Ft. Meade and celebrated with her and her daughter, who was visiting from Spring, Texas.  Upon receiving the cake, Erma had but one comment, “I may be 100-years-old, but I’m going on 29.”

We are so thankful to have her as a volunteer, and her commitment to serve our clients is evident by the time and talents she shares with us.