SALISBURY, MD — Feb. 7, 2017 –  Two long-time Coastal Hospice volunteers are recipients of the 2017 Jefferson Awards. WBOC-TV’s Maxine Bentzel presented the awards to the volunteers at surprise ceremonies in December and January, and will air stories about the recipients during February and March.

Coastal Hospice volunteer Kevin Hughes received his award at a surprise ceremony at his place of employment, Sysco in Pocomoke City. Hughes has a lifetime of volunteering for his church and community, giving 135 volunteer hours last year to Coastal Hospice alone and thousands of hours since he began volunteering for the non-profit in 2007.

His interest in caring for the sick began when several family members became ill, and he was their caregiver. Hughes says he likes serving others and bringing smiles to their faces and also spreading the word about hospice.

“I felt a calling to get involved with the hospice organization,” Hughes said. “I knew the public in general has no idea what hospice is all about, so I am able to educate my own family, friends and co-workers about what hospice has to offer.”

Hughes is a regular at the hospice’s inpatient facility, Coastal Hospice at the Lake at Deer’s Head Hospital in Salisbury, volunteering there almost every Thursday evening.  He spends his time with patients and their families plus helps staff with inventory and other administrative duties.

Coastal Hospice volunteer Ellen Lowe was surprised with her Jefferson Award at the church that nominated her, Asbury United Methodist in Sharptown, Md., where she preaches and works with children.

“I think a lot of people knew this that I didn’t know,” Lowe said after being told she was an award winner. “Thank you so much. It’s an honor and a privilege.”

Lowe has been a regular patient care volunteer at Coastal Hospice since 2005, going into patients’ homes to help with whatever they or their family need. She dresses like an elf to participate in Coastal Hospice’s annual Santa Run and volunteers at the hospice’s summer grief support camp for children, Camp Safe Harbor at Salisbury University. Lowe also volunteers at the Eastern Shore Hospital Center.

“I love to work with the children,” Lowe said. “I know that it is important to be a good role model, and I know that I want for them what they might not even know they want.”

Friends at her church say Lowe makes everyone she meets feel loved.

“Miss Ellen is one of those people who gives everything she can and doesn’t expect anything in return, ever,” Elise Adkins, a friend from church, said.

The Jefferson Awards Foundation was created in 1972 by the American Institute for Public Service that gives awards at both national and local levels. Local Jefferson Award winners are ordinary people who do extraordinary things without expectation of recognition. On Delmarva, WBOC-TV airs stories about local winners every spring.

Founded in 1980, Coastal Hospice is a nonprofit health care organization that cares for individuals facing life-limiting conditions but who want to remain as active and engaged as possible.  Coastal Hospice cares for patients in their home, nursing home, assisted living facility or at Coastal Hospice at the Lake, and serves Somerset, Dorchester, Wicomico and Worcester counties.