At the recent 18th annual Employee and Volunteer Recognition Luncheon — hosted by Health Facilities Association of Maryland — the Timonium Optimist Club and longtime member Jim Righter were honored for years of volunteer service at the Genesis Cromwell Center, and specifically for contributions to the mental, social and emotional well-being of residents there.

Jim and his wife, Dolores, and fellow Timonium Optimists have been assisting with the center's bingo games for more than 10 years, much to the residents' delight.


Jim is a friendly and familiar face as he calls the numbers for the weekly Tuesday games.

According to Genesis administrators, Jim engages residents in heartwarming conversation, encourages them to laugh with his magic tricks, jokes and clowns around.

Workers note that laughter is one of the best medicines for seniors, and when Jim is there, the laughter is contagious. Not only does he encourage fun, he and other Optimist volunteers are faithful in their attendance, letting the residents know that they really do care, and will show up as promised.

In addition, Jim, Dolores and fellow Optimists have supplied prizes and trinkets for monthly Saturday games.

They also help to make holidays special occasions at the center. On Valentine's Day, for instance, each resident is given a personalized card and hugs; and at Christmas, volunteers spread good cheer and distribute gifts at an annual holiday party.

It was noted that even though the volunteers themselves have been hospitalized and are dealing with serious family illnesses, their spirits have not been dampened — and their spirit still shines.

Their enthusiasm and the tremendous Optimist way of life is spread generously to all at the Genesis facility.

"Our residents just love them" noted the staff in the Volunteer of the Year application.

That about says it all.

Stan Hunkovic Jr. reports an update in his efforts to bring his children home from Trinidad, where they were taken by their mother more than a year ago.

Last month, a judge awarded Stan full custody of Gabriel and Anastasia. However, U.S. courts have no jurisdiction in Trinidad, so Stan still suffers the loss of his children.

Stan is hoping to travel to Trinidad in early September to continue his efforts to bring back the children and to spend some time with them.

In an effort to help with his legal and travel expenses, the family has scheduled fundraisers:

On Aug. 20, a car wash will be held at the Exxon station at the corner of York and Seminary roads from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; a yard sale will be held Sept. 4, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Prudential Caruthers lot, 2015 Emmorton Road, Bel Air.


Donated items for the sale are appreciated. Contact Peggy at 443-910-0904, Stan Sr. at 443-799-6795, or Stan Jr. at 443-799-6794.

The battle continues for Stan, but he remains positive. "I am living in the present, hoping for the future."

Kelly Swoope, with Channel 2 news, is also monitoring Stan's story and frequently gives updates on air.