Offering comfort and kindness


Beverly Lafferty, the Hospice director of Volunteer Services, left, poses in the Smile Time photo booth with Rachel Harrison, a Hospice Thrift Store volunteer, during the 2019 Hospice of Marion County Volunteer of the Year awards ceremony at Hospice of Marion County in Ocala, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. Sharon Rinschler and her Therapy Dog, Dakota were named the Volunteers of the Year and given the Hospice Presidential Award during the awards ceremony, which is normally held at the College of Central Florida with a luncheon or dinner to honor all 200 volunteers at once. This year, volunteers were invited to Hospice to be honored for their services, one-by-one, due to COVID-19 restrictions. Rinschler has been a volunteer for Hospice for 25 years. She has volunteered at the Six Gun Hospice Thrift Store since it opened in 2013. She and Dakota visit Hospice patients regularly at the different Hospice Houses to cheer them up. She is also a Hospice Ambassador at Meadowbrook Church.

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Posted October 2, 2020 | Photography by Bruce Ackerman

Hospice of Marion County held its Volunteer of the Year awards ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 29.  The event is held annually to recognize the more than 200 volunteers who work at the Hospice Thrift Store and serve in an array of critical support roles for the organization.

Normally, Hospice holds a banquet at the College of Central Florida for its volunteers, but the Covid pandemic scuttled those plans and forced the organization to instead hold a series of smaller gatherings at Hospice this year.

During the event, Hospice leaders honored Sharon Rinschler and her therapy dog, Dakota, as the Volunteers of the Year and bestowed upon them the Hospice Presidential. Rinschler, a volunteer for Hospice for 25 year, has volunteered at the Six Gun Hospice Thrift Store since it opened in 2013. She and Dakota also visit Hospice patients at the different Hospice Houses to cheer them up. She is also a Hospice Ambassador at Meadowbrook Church. Dakota, a rescue dog, is the second therapy dog to serve alongside Rinschler as she visits and comforts patients.