Naomi Runyon was recognized on Wednesday for reaching 8,000 hours of service over her 34 years at OLBH.

Eight thousand hours is a lot of time.

Crunch the data, and it breaks down to 333.33 days. Basically, Naomi Runyon has given the equivalent of 333 full days of service to Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital through her 34 years as a volunteer.

On May 15, Runyon said she will celebrate her 34th year with the program. Her dedicated service was recognized before her peers during a luncheon honoring OLBH volunteers Wednesday.

State representative Tanya Pullin, of South Shore, surprised Runyon with a certificate of appreciation from the Kentucky House of Representatives, thanking her for dedicating an enormous amount of time to the betterment of the community.

“When they say I’ve worked that many hours, it makes me think ‘How can that be?’ But here it is,” she said. “It probably could have been more, but I love to travel so that took away some of my volunteer hours.”

Runyon, a New York native, said she moved to Kentucky after meeting her husband.

“I married a doll of a Kentucky boy, he was a sailor and I went for that fella right now,” she said, the blush evident on her face. “I sure still miss him.”

Unfortunately, her husband died 13 years ago, but even though she misses him dearly, she has stayed in Boyd County.

She joined the volunteer program with her sister, Vernona Petre, who died a little over a year ago.

Runyon said she loved volunteering with Petre because it was something they could do together, since most of their family is still in New York.

Holding strong to the familial concept, Runyon chose to volunteer visiting patients in hospice.

“What I love is being on the floor with patients because there were so many times I would go into a room and it would be a little old person that did not have a family around ...There was just something that drew me to be with the older and the sicker,” she said with a laugh.

That “something” was the chance to connect with those who did not have families.

“I didn’t have a lot of family here at the time. I guess that made quite a difference to be able to be family for someone else,” she said.

Volunteers who reached new milestones were also recognized, as Director of Volunteers Luann Serey gave pins to those achieving higher marks from 100 hours to Runyon’s reigning 8,000 hour total.

Serey said overall, the volunteers totaled 15,000 hours of service since last year.

All money collected through volunteer work goes back to the hospital for equipment or other operational activities or items.

Serey said they recently purchased new beds and flat screen television sets for patient rooms.

“The best things about the volunteer program we have is that, while separate, it’s still part of the hospital. The hospital accepts them (volunteers) as part of their family,” she said.

Other notable community members came out to support the volunteer program, including Ashland Mayor Chuck Charles and WSAZ’s Tony Cavalier, who spoke during the reception.

LANA BELLAMY can be reached at lbellamy@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.

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