With a bright smile, 96-year-old Roy Schapansky of Clovis points to a large, round button on his vest showing a happy sun and the words, “How may I help you? Is there anything else I can do for you?”
He’s spent 5,785 hours over nearly seven years asking just that at Clovis Community Medical Center. Schapansky greets and directs patients and their families from the seat of his motorized wheelchair in the lobby of the hospital’s outpatient center.
On Thursday morning, he was surprised to receive the hospital’s first ever Volunteer of the Year Award. He was chosen from 149 active volunteers (263 total) who collectively have volunteered 22,918 hours over 12 months.
“My time is useless if I don’t do something for somebody else, and that’s why I’m here,” Schapansky said.
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Of his happy greetings, Schapansky said he wants patients and their families to “know that I care — I care.”
Clovis Community CEO Craig Castro agrees. “It’s just an honor to have someone like him that gives so much to us and our patients and their families. I feel honored to have people of his caliber — and it’s all from the heart.”
Schapansky volunteers at the hospital from 8 a.m. to noon on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. He started shortly after his wife of more than 60 years died following a series of small strokes.
“It was very hard for him to deal with,” said son Kirk Schapansky, “but I think focusing outside of yourself, giving to other people, lifted him out of that. It literally saved his life, I think. He’s impacting hundreds of people here.”
The impression he’s making continues to surprise him.
“He loves the fact that people give him hugs and that everybody recognizes him,” said son David Schapansky. “I think it shocked him that people started calling him by name without being told what his name was. He was like, ‘They know me! They recognize me!’
“I said, ‘Of course, Dad. You’re giving a lot.’ And every time my wife and I come to visit, he shows me his vest and his hours pin and says, ‘Look what I got! Look at the birthday card everyone signed for me.’ He loves that — without being in the limelight.”
Well, the brothers laugh, maybe just “little flashlight limelights.”
They called their dad a giving and fun-loving jokester who deeply values his Christian faith.
He and his wife used to volunteer with the Mobile Missionary Assistance Program, an organization of retired couples who travel in RVs and offer assistance at churches, camps, missions, orphanages and other similar ministries.
“He loves to give to people,” Kirk said. “He’ll do anything to help somebody out.”
David added of his father’s example: “I think volunteerism is a huge way to give back to a community — and you can do it at any age.”
Schapansky, who retired from the retail grocery business, has a pacemaker and knee replacements, but otherwise, his family said, he’s healthy and “sharp as a tack.” He lives with son Kirk and his wife, Kim, in Clovis.
His sons hope they inherited their dad’s good genes.
They said Schapansky’s mother lived to be 96 and that their father is in better health than she was at that age. Schapansky can still walk fine, but he uses a motorized wheelchair at the hospital as a precaution.
“He takes this job very seriously,” Kim Schapansky said. “It would be very easy for him at his stage of life and age to shut down and hole up and say, ‘I’m done,’ but he hasn’t. He’s kept going, he’s kept motivating. I’m really proud of him.”