Friday, October 19, 2012

Spotlight on James Vine


James Vine has a significant history of volunteering.  In fact, in 1941, at the age of 16, he volunteered for the National Guard in his home state of California.  It took the Guard 18 months, but they eventually figured out that he was underage and discharged him.

That didn’t slow him down, though. He immediately joined the Navy and was deployed twice to the Central Pacific.

In 1944, while on leave in Camden, NJ, Jim met his love, Susie, on a blind date.  They married, had three sons and eventually six grandchildren and one great-grandson.  They were parted last August when after 65 years of marriage, his beloved wife, Susie passed away.

Jim Vine has been an active volunteer in Gloucester County for the past 13 years. When asked why he became a volunteer with the Office of the Ombudsman back in 1999, Jim credited Susie. “In my declining years, I wanted to live up to the ideals of my wife, who was the quintessential giver.”

Jim says that what has kept him going as a long-term volunteer is that even though volunteering presents constant challenges,  he can  identify plenty of situations that would not have been resolved if it were not for his advocacy.   Incidents range from pushing for a consult for a resident who had a growth on her face (which indeed turned out to be cancer) to empowering residents to speak up for themselves to ensuring that all residents are treated fairly and equitably.

When volunteering, Jim feels closer to Susie, who would have wanted him to continue his role as a volunteer advocate.

Jim’s advice to new volunteers:  “First establish a positive relationship with the staff.  That lets them know that you can relate to them in a way that they can trust you. They will help you do your job.  But, you must always remember, “YOU ARE THERE FOR THE RESIDENT!”

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