Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Betty Lenig: Volunteer
BY CLAUDIA W. ESBENSHADE, Staff Writer
Betty Lenig's mother taught her that once she started something, she should stick with it.
Lenig, who recently turned 90, took that advice and ran with it.
In 1961, Lenig started volunteering for Lancaster General Hospital and since then has logged 19,000 hours over her 52 years at the hospital.
And over the years, Lenig has done her share of tasks, rolling with the monumental changes at the hospital. She now divides her time between the oncology department at the downtown campus and the bariatric department at the health campus on Harrisburg Pike.
Performing tasks from collating to phone calls to addressing mailers, Lenig has done as many tasks as her years of service to the hospital.
"I have done everything from A to Z," Lenig says.
According to Andrea Cubbison, manager of Volunteer Services at Lancaster General Health, Lenig is just one of the more than 600 volunteers who give their time to the hospital. A dozen of these volunteers are in their 90s and 83 of the volunteers are in their 80s, according to Cubbison.
"Volunteers are very important to our organization, and we could not do without volunteers like Betty," says Jay R. Bucher, president of Lancaster General Health Foundation. "Her 52 years of service are very much appreciated, and she is to be commended for her pleasant and enthusiastic personality. She is always willing to step in and support volunteer needs throughout the organization."
Lenig and her husband Donald, who worked in construction for 63 years before retiring from Benchmark Construction, have two children, Darlene Cover and Allen Lenig, four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
After she worked for 10 years in the 1960s, Lenig "retired" to raise her family and focus on her time as a Girl Scout leader and volunteer.
Lenig also is a member of the Iris Club, and served as the club's hospitality coordinator for about eight years before passing on the torch.
Lenig credits her good health -- she has never had a cold or a headache, she says -- to her "keep busy" mentality.
"I don't like to sit around," Lenig says. "I need to be doing things, even if it's just organizing things around my house."
Using these skills was important during a stint as the chairman of the hospital gift shop. Lenig was in the shop daily, keeping things organized and "redding up," she says.
When not volunteering, Lenig and her husband spend time traveling -- they've visited more than 37 countries and skied at at least 67 locations.
Unfortunately a double knee replacement shortened Lenig's ski career at the age of 87.
"I love to travel," she says. "If you sit around and do nothing, you become a dud."
When she does sit around, she likes to do word find and Sudoku puzzles, but has not done as many of the latter as she has "gotten to be too quick at them."
Lenig also is an avid reader. She and her husband have embraced the technology of e-readers and own three Nooks that they've loaded up with libraries of books, she says.
Being raised through the Depression in Selinsgrove taught Lenig many valuable lessons that she has tried to apply to her life.
"It was hard," Lenig says with a tear in her eye. "My daddy lost his job, and we had seven kids. We had to work for everything we had and do what needed to be done."
Working the family's boat for fish or the garden for produce -- they planted everything from horseradish to peanuts -- gave her an appreciation for her parents and their work ethic, Lenig says.
"My mom was involved in every organization in town," she says.
And Lenig has proved that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree with her time at the hospital.
"She is one of those people who you know will get the job done," Cubbison says. "She is always willing to help."
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