Some people volunteer in their spare time, but few do as much for the homebound elderly as Joanne Lapcinski.
And that’s why she was nominated — and has been named — Sussex Patch’s "Person of the Year" for 2012.
“She comes to my house all the time,” said Marge Tinger, 90, of Sussex. "She’s wonderful. I told her the other day, 'You’re like an angel from heaven.' She does anything I ask her, you know. And she volunteers, 'Can I do this, can I do that?'
"She’s out of this world. She does my toenails, and she cleans. She changes my bed, she scrubs the floor on her knees, vacuums; she does everything. And she is so pleasant," Tinger added. "I just love her.”
Tinger said that Lapcinski helps her not be lonely. “I look forward to her coming,” she said.
“She is just one of those people who gets the job done without expecting anything in return,” concurred Jennifer Waltz, the executive director of Sussex Outreach Services, which runs a local food pantry. Waltz nominated Lapcinski for the Patch honor.
“She is a volunteer who has been delivering meals to our homebound clients two times a month for as long as I can think of," Waltz said. "She is also in charge of the pantry on Wednesday mornings, so that one of our other faithful volunteers can have a day off.”
Lapcinski, who has lived in Sussex for 20 years with her husband of 26 years, said she has been helping seniors for 12 to 14 years. Over those years, she has taken the homebound to doctors' appointments, picked up their prescriptions, done light housekeeping, carpet cleaning, and even fixed people’s hair.
“I have three clients still in my care,” she said. “I just think it’s always been my passion. I enjoy the seniors. I just think they all have a great story to tell, and most of them are lonely.”
“I really like people,” she said.
She took a break from caring for non-related seniors for a time. The reason: She was taking care of her elderly father. He passed away in 2008 at age 91, so she went back to caring for other elderly.
She now helps three homebound Sussex women between the ages of 80 and 90.
“They live alone,” she said.
One is in the hospital right now, she said, adding, “I call her every day.”
Lapcinski and her husband have three children and five grandchildren.
But in addition to her care for the homebound, she finds time to volunteer each week at the Sussex Food Pantry at N63W23626 Silver Spring Drive. When she’s done volunteering there, she delivers food to between five and seven people each week.
“There’s always a need for volunteers,” she said.
Of the person of the year honor, Lapcinski said: “I’m shocked and flattered, and it’s a real honor.”