United States (U.S.) Army Reserve veteran William “Bill” Warner had a busy day at the Haven Suwannee Valley Care Center in Lake City. Warner was first recognized for his military service by volunteer veterans as a part of the Haven Pinning Ceremony for veteran patients, which includes a veteran pin, a thank you card signed by the staff and a certificate of appreciation from Haven. The presentation ends with a salute to honor the veteran’s service.

In addition to the veteran pinning ceremony, Warner also received a special visit from Haven Pet Visit Volunteer Wayne Thompson and his Giant Schnauzer, Zachary Taylor. Haven Social Worker Jennie Lyons also spent time with Warner. “I visited with Mr. Warner during his veteran pinning ceremony and his visit with Zach and he told me it was one of the happiest days of his life,” said Lyons. “It is so wonderful that our amazing volunteers are able to provide patients and their families with so much happiness.”

Wayne and Zach have been bringing smiles to the faces of Haven patients and their families for approximately one year. “I saw that Haven was looking for volunteers in the paper, told them what I wanted to do and got involved,” said Wayne, a retired school teacher from Miami who relocated to Lake City approximately 17 years ago. “I had seen requests for volunteers at Haven in the paper before, but thought that I would not want to do that. But after getting involved, it is an amazing experience that really goes right to your heart.”

Zach has been a member of Wayne’s family for about two and a half years and is a very unique dog. “We got Zach when he was a puppy and one of the conditions was that we name him after a President of the United States. That is where he got the name Zachary Taylor,” said Thompson “He has spent a lot of time in his life training to be a therapy dog and he goes to obedience training once a week, but his personality is what really sets him apart. You can’t breed his personality, and the way he interacts with people. That was nature’s gift to him.”

Volunteers are a vital member of the Hospice Care Team. They provide companionship, support and assistance to patients residing at home, in assisted living facilities, nursing homes, hospitals and the Suwannee Valley Care Center. They also reach out to grieving families, help staff the Attic Resale Store, assist with administrative tasks and serve on special event committees.  Haven is proud to have more than 700 community members dedicating their time and talents to patients and families in 18 Florida counties. If you would like more information about becoming a volunteer in Lake City, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Lauren Pinchouck 386.752.9191.