IT’S SOMETHING THAT ANY ONE OF US CAN DO
Samaritan Volunteer Don D’Amato Finds Richness in Life by Helping Others
Don D’Amato considers his assignments for Samaritan an enriching part of his busy calendar.
Some of his duties include answering phones, making coffee and visiting with patients and their
families at the Samaritan Inpatient Hospice Center.
When Don D’Amato was “just a kid,” his grade school took him to visit WWI veterans in nursing homes. At 73 years of age, Don is still finding ways to give back to his community and honor our nation’s veterans who, he says, “are true treasures, walking history books. Both our old vets and our new ones are valued patriots.”
This active real estate broker, who originally hailed from Palmyra, NJ, considers his volunteer assignments for Samaritan an enriching part of his busy calendar. He expects no accolades or fanfare, however, because, “it’s something that any one of us can do.”
He is the youngest of seven children of Irish-Welsh and Italian immigrants. After serving in the NJ Air National Guard, Don joined the Navy in 1957. He married his high school sweetheart and together they raised five children. After the military, he worked at a variety of jobs and attended evening college classes. It was in real estate sales, appraisals, and insurance that he found his life’s career. He established D’Amato Realty and Insurance, and taught real estate licensing courses for Rutgers University evening division for 13 years. He is currently the owner and Broker of Record for 1st American Realty Group in Burlington County.
But it is his work on behalf of Samaritan that brings this “do-er” the most satisfaction. “I met Kathy O’Connell [Samaritan social worker] about 15 years ago,” he explains. “So when my mother became ill, I called Kathy for advice. Then my oldest sister was dying in Pennsylvania and it was the first time I saw the hospice experience up close. Everyone was so kind, caring, and understanding.” That experience prompted Don to attend a Samaritan volunteer training class four years ago. ”I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do or what I was suited for or qualified to do,” he said. After learning more about Samaritan’s
many opportunities, Don opted to volunteer at Samaritan’s Inpatient Hospice Center in Mt. Holly, as well as,visit hospice patients in their private residences or assisted living facilities. He also provides a supportive presence by attending vigils with hospice patients during their final hours. The satisfaction he gets from helping others is priceless. But the most profound experience, says Don, has been meeting and observing both volunteers and paid staff who do truly “good Samaritan work.”
“I have observed people who quietly go about their work performing tasks and comforting the seriously ill with kindness, tenderness, and compassion. It has been a humbling experience to be around such people. The word hero comes to mind.” He continues “God bless America, the land of the free, which permits and fosters the development and growth of organizations such as Samaritan Healthcare & Hospice.”
If you are interesting in volunteering, please contact Sally Cezo at (856) 552-3235.