Beth Joyner's caring approach to others influences the lives of both young and old in the Cape Region.
After retiring in November 2010, it didn't take long before Joyner started another vocation – volunteering. She has been helping others the same way she did as an administrative assistant to Superior Court judges: with unconditional devotion and caring.
She volunteers at Beebe Medical Center, Gull House, Tunnell Cancer Center and at Beach Babies Child Care through the Read Aloud Delaware program. If that wasn't enough for a resume, in 2013 she wants to expand her volunteer duties.
“My husband, Ed, has always told me that we have to make a contribution in life, and I feel now that I am making a small contribution,” she said during an interview at her Pinewater Farms home near Long Neck.
A testament to her caring is the recent announcement that she is one of this year's Jefferson Award winners presented by WBOC-TV. The station honors outstanding volunteers throughout Delmarva. She was humbled by the award. “I don't feel that I do a whole lot; there are so many people out there who do a lot more,” she said.
At Beebe, Beth volunteers with the transportation department to escort patients around the hospital. At Tunnell Cancer Center, she works at the front desk to help anyway she can. She also volunteers at Beebe's Gull House, an adult day care center. As a Read Aloud volunteer, she reads one-on-one to children at Beach Babies.
She helped coordinate a story time program at Rehoboth Beach Library and was also among the volunteer army working at the Jusst Sooup Ranch during the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” project. She continues to support the efforts of the Rev. Dale Dunning and her ministry.
Beth said she works with pre-schoolers and those who are into their late 80s and even into their 90s, so she gets a real perspective on life each week.
“The kids show unconditional love; it's so rewarding when they see me coming and yell out, 'Miss Beth, can I read,'” she said. “And with older people, all they want is a friendly face, a smile, an arm around their shoulder or a little conversation, and it lights up their face.”
As with most volunteers, Beth said she receives much more than she gives. “The warmth, appreciation and love people give back is so rewarding to me,” she said.
In an area inundated with volunteers, she said, she sees a need for even more. “Working as a volunteer you are so appreciated,” she said. “And I still have plenty of time for myself and do the activities I like to do.”
At a recent luncheon, she said it was announced that Beebe has more than 570 active volunteers. “They said they have saved millions thanks to the volunteers, so we asked for a raise,” she said with a smile.
This is not the first time Beth has been honored for her service. In 2009, she received the prestigious Lee Brothers Award for her work at Superior Court. She was honored as “the epitome of the tireless and dedicated unsung hero” with “a work ethic above the norm.”
Beth moved to the Cape Region in 1990 from Pennsylvania when she married Ed, a retired Montgomery County, Md., police officer and retired Superior Court bailiff.
Ed, a decorated officer, has plaques and awards covering two walls in their home. “There is no place to hang my award,” Beth said as the couple laughed. “I'm trying to keep up with him.”
Beth said she should start writing down stories from her volunteer sessions so she doesn't forget them. She tells one story about a 3-year-old who was wearing a Santa's Little Helper shirt at Beach Babies. Beth asked the child what was written on her shirt. “I said, 'Does it say Santa's Little Helper?” and she said, “No Miss Beth. It says Santa's BFF.”
She's taken her 9-year-old granddaughter to help read to children at Beach Babies.
In her rare free time, she and Ed attend University of Delaware football and women's basketball games. They have enjoyed watching the career of basketball phenom Elena Delle Donne over the years. They went to Newark Dec. 20 to see the Hens play before a record crowd of more than 5,000 people.
Beth said she doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. “I love this area; I've always loved the beach,” she said. “I still feel like I'm on vacation because I can go to the beach anytime I want.”
That is if she can find time.