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For 3 LI volunteers, helping South Nassau hospital is half-century of good work

Jean Silver of Rockville Centre, Ruth Fortin of

Jean Silver of Rockville Centre, Ruth Fortin of Oceanside and June Kane of Rockville Centre were honored by South Nassau Communities Hospital today for their 50 years of service as volunteers. Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

For 91-year-old Ruth Fortin of Oceanside, volunteering at South Nassau Communities Hospital never gets old.

On Tuesday a crowd of nearly 40 at the hospital honored Fortin, June Kane of Rockville Centre and Jean Silvers of Baldwin for each of their 50 years of volunteer service. The trio continues to help patients and staff, inspiring others to follow in their footsteps.

"We're just thrilled to be able to give recognition and celebrate three wonderful ladies who have each given over half a century of their life, dedicating their time and energy as incredible volunteers to help make the hospital the special place it is," said William Allison, the hospital's senior vice president for health policy and planning.

On Fortin's first day volunteering at the hospital in 1965, she priced merchandise at the gift shop. Now, she delivers equipment, food and laundry once a week. She hopes to volunteer until she's 95.

"I have made friends for a lifetime," Fortin said. "The patients, the people who work here, everybody is nice. . . . Every time I come in, there's something different to do. It's great."

When Silvers, 88, started volunteering in 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson was president. She said she enjoys volunteering, but misses some of her past relationships at the hospital.

"When I volunteered originally we were more of a social group," Silvers said. "We were all younger and all together. But now when I volunteer, I don't know them as well."

Kane, 87, was born in South Nassau Communities Hospital, where she has volunteered for 51 years. She helps file paperwork for the electrocardiogram department. Although she recently injured a vertebra in her back, she hasn't changed her schedule, volunteering twice a week.

"I am not as active as I used to be," Kane said. "Let me tell you, I have aches and pains. In fact, I have a compression fracture of my spine I just found out I had two weeks ago. I can't do a lot of walking. I plan on volunteering as long as I can drive to the hospital."

The three also help motivate others. MaryGrace Fernandez, 15, an incoming sophomore at Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead, has volunteered for three months. She said she dreams of being a nurse and after she retires, she wants to volunteer like the honorees.

"I think volunteering has changed me as a person," said Fernandez, of Malverne. "It has made me more confident and involved in the community."

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