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Blanca Di Cecco and her daughter, Fanny Younger, sport the smocks they wear while volunteering at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
Longboat Key Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 5 years ago

Volunteer work runs in family

by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

Fanny Younger and her mother, Blanca Di Cecco, have volunteered more than 10,000 hours combined at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

That’s the equivalent of at least five years of full-time, 40-hour-a-week work. It means that mother and daughter, both from Longboat Key, have spent more hours volunteering than the 8,760 hours there are in an entire year.

Younger, 56, has a pin that recognizes her 1,000 hours of service over the past five years. It will take her a long time to catch up to Di Cecco, 83, who has volunteered since 1991 at the hospital and received a 9,000-hour pin in September.

Already, Younger is following in her mother’s footsteps:

Oct. 17, she received the hospital’s “President Award” for her volunteer work, an honor Di Cecco has also received.

Di Cecco was a longtime volunteer at Southside Hospital in Long Island, N.Y. At age 14, Younger joined her as a candy striper.

When Di Cecco retired in 1991, she began volunteering at Sarasota Memorial because she needed something to get her out of the house. More than a decade-and-a-half later, Younger began volunteering at the hospital in 2007, shortly after her own retirement.

Both Younger and Di Cecco say that many people believe that hospital volunteer work consists of nothing more than delivering flowers. Both know better.

Di Cecco volunteers at the Waldemere Desk doing dispatch work, but that’s not all.

A few years ago, hospital workers noticed that patients were often forced to put their eyeglasses in shoes because they didn’t bring a case and asked for suggestions. Di Cecco began sewing cases out of scrap fabric to meet the need. She now sews as many as 600 cases per month.

Di Cecco, a Puerto Rico native, also helps out whenever the hospital needs a Spanish translator.

Younger volunteers running whatever errands are needed in the dispatch office, while also chairing the hospital’s teenage volunteer program.

Both women see how the little things make a big difference to patients, such as showing a lost visitor to the room they’re looking for instead of pointing out directions.

Younger hopes that she, like her mother, will be healthy enough to follow in her mother’s footsteps to 9,000 hours and beyond. But 9,000 hours isn’t a stopping point for Di Cecco.

“As long as I can walk, I’ll volunteer,” she said.


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