2019 Grace Johnson Volunteer Award Recipients

Shown in the photos left to right are: Judy Mongiardo and Laraine Marthinsen from Family Promise Metrowest; Ginny Berzin and Rebecca Wendler from Miriam Boyd Parlin Hospice Residence


For the first time, The Parmenter Foundation Board of Trustees was pleased to present two extraordinary volunteers, Laraine Marthinsen of Natick, MA and Ginny Berzin of Cambridge, MA with the Grace Johnson Volunteer Award in October. Established in 2005, the award is given annually to an outstanding volunteer from a Parmenter Foundation grantee organization.

Laraine Marthinsen, Family Promise Metrowest volunteer, has transformed the lives of families throughout Metrowest by ensuring they have shelter, education and comprehensive services. Two decades ago Laraine, motivated by the rising number of families without a home in the MetroWest area began to plant the seeds to create a Family Promise network. As a member of the Christ Lutheran Church of Natick, Laraine researched the issue, found congregations to host families, found volunteers to make meals and staff programs, created a Day Center and raised funds to support these groundbreaking efforts. Family Promise Metrowest was established in 2008 and from the first day, Laraine has served as the lead coordinator for Christ Lutheran Church and the Good Shepherd Parish organizing more than fifty volunteers to turn church space into bedrooms, dining rooms and playrooms for several weeks each year. For over 10 years Laraine has gone above and beyond in her hosting duties to create a temporary home for families that includes a warm safe space for relaxation, private comfortable make-shift bedrooms and nutritious hot meals. She is the embodiment of generous hospitality; she knows the guests by name, she plays with children for countless hours, she is warm and compassionate and creates a temporary community of love and respect for one another.

Ginny Berzin, CareGroup Parmenter HomeCare and Hospice volunteer provides hospice care for patients at the Miriam Boyd Parlin Residence. Further, Ginny provides a specialty service “sitting vigil” at the bedside of actively dying patients and their families at the very end of life. Instead of working regular volunteer hours at the hospice residence, Ginny gets called to be at the bedside of dying patients several times a week and sometimes more than once per day. It is her kind way that so many families appreciate; especially the way she listens and helps patients end their lives with dignity, peace and comfort. Ginny is also a Eucharistic minister and can administer communion and last rites that comforts some families. Her compassion was appreciated by a recent patient’s family member who wrote, “Ginny is an angel…the many hours that she stayed with our mother, held hands with her, sat quietly with her, at the same time was there for all of us. With a quiet calm way she listened to a million stories from all of us about our mom smiling, nodding, and allowing us to remember all our good past times together. When our mother passed, we were ready. She helped prepare us and brought us peace. We are forever grateful for her kindness and attention at a tough time.” Ginny embraces her volunteer role with clarity, compassion and expertise. As a result, she is a great advocate for patients and their families and a wonderful resource for the nurses and staff.

Laraine and Ginny’s commitment and dedication to their volunteer roles is akin to the commitment for whom the award is named, Grace Johnson.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *