TOPEKA – Kathy Dechand has spent nearly every Saturday and Sunday since 1974 volunteering hours of her time each day to residents of the Kansas Neurological Institute (KNI). Today she was honored as the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS) Volunteer of the Month for February. KDADS Secretary Shawn Sullivan presented Kathy with the award in the company of Todd Han, Volunteer Coordinator at KNI, several residents and fellow volunteers, and KNI Superintendent Barney Hubert.
The award presentation was a surprise to the nearly 40-year volunteer who was nominated last month by Han. He was thrilled Kathy was chosen for the honor, saying “If every volunteer was like Kathy, it would be too easy. She does everything she’s ever asked to do and does most things without having to be asked and that makes my job easy. We can’t thank her enough for all she does for us.”
“When I was Volunteer Coordinator here 30 years ago, Kathy was already volunteering here… in the 30 years since, her volunteerism has had a huge positive impact on the lives of our residents and we appreciate it so much,” added Hubert.
The Volunteer of the Month program was created to recognize Kansans who donate their time and energy to help persons with disabilities and/or older adults.
“Kathy Dechand is an admirable example of how enriching the lives of others through volunteer work can and does better ourselves and our community,” KDADS Secretary Shawn Sullivan said. “Her positive attitude and caring approach impacts countless lives and we are so proud to honor her as KDADS’ Volunteer of the Month.”
Dechand walked into a room full of residents and volunteers at the Honey Bee Lodge on the KNI campus when she was surprised to learn she was there to be named Volunteer of the Month. Initially, all Dechand could say was “Wow.” But after she absorbed the surprise, she began talking about the residents she works with, “The ‘kids’ are great,” she said. “I got introduced to them back in 1974 and the more I got to know them the more lovable they got. I truly believe that your life is better if you give more and the more you give the better your life will get. I have no doubt that holds true. The part that makes me feel like I’m a millionaire is that I get back more than I give every day.”
KDADS Secretary Sullivan presented Dechand with a certificate of appreciation, a $20 Walgreens gift card and a $50 check from KDADS. KanCare Managed Care Organizations Amerigroup, Sunflower State Health Plan and United Healthcare are proud sponsors of the Volunteer of the Month program.