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Saturday, June 10, 2023

Baltimore Woman Selected as VA’s National Advisory Committee’s Female Volunteer of the Year

(BALTIMORE, MD) – If time is our most precious resource, Cynthia Davis, 73, has invested hers as a volunteer to appreciate veterans, an activity inspired by the desire to honor her now-late brother who served in Vietnam. “The boy we sent off to Vietnam was not the boy who came back,” she said, noting that he returned plagued by the aftermath of combat that he could never shake. Now after nearly a decade of volunteering at the VA Maryland Health Care System and more than a decade volunteering with the Department of Maryland Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) Auxiliary, Davis’ work on behalf of veterans has brought her an unexpected tribute of her own. She was selected as VA’s National Advisory Committee’s (NAC) Female Volunteer of the Year and will be recognized at its annual NAC conference in April in Denver, Colorado.
“Cynthia is an exceptional volunteer at the Baltimore VA Medical Center,” said Susan Kern, program manager for the Center for Development and Civic Engagement at the VA Maryland Health Care System. “Her commitment to veterans, and specifically veteran patients, can be observed in her daily interactions with everyone within our facility.”
Currently, Davis volunteers as a dispatcher for Escort Service at the Baltimore VA Medical Center—which transports veteran patients to and from their appointments and exams throughout the facility—three to four mornings per week, often picking up other shifts when needed. As a dispatcher, she is responsible for ensuring that all transports are done efficiently and safely. “A huge part of her assignment is customer service in working with the volunteer Escorts and the staff calling for a patient transport,” Kern said, noting that over the past five years, she has accumulated 1,530 hours of volunteer service.
Sandra Kriebel, the National VFW Auxiliary VA Veterans Service (VAVS) Representative on the NAC and a VAVS Deputy Representative for the Department of Maryland VFW Auxiliary for the Loch Raven VA Medical Center, attests to Davis’ way with people, saying “Cynthia spreads sunshine wherever she goes. Her positive attitude and her smile and laugh lights up any room she enters.”
While Davis has spent the past few years as the dispatcher for the all-volunteer Escort Service at the Baltimore VA Medical Center, her prior volunteer assignment, which was disrupted by the pandemic, brought her to the hospice unit at the Loch Raven VA Medical Center where she sat with dying veterans. “VA trained me to be a hospice volunteer, and that is still one of my favorite volunteer positions,” she said.
“Some veterans don’t have any family, or their families live far away,” said Davis, who retired from her career as a supervisor at the Social Security Administration. “I was happy to be there with them.”
During the pandemic, Davis continued to volunteer by participating in the VA Maryland Health Care System’s Compassionate Contact Corps Program, talking on the phone weekly with two veterans who had been struggling with loneliness during the lockdown. After the restrictions lifted following the pandemic, she became the Escort dispatcher. For Davis, service is important but serving veterans is especially important.
Said Kern: “If you don’t know Cynthia, her smile says it all. She loves what she does and that shows in what she has accomplished in serving veterans.”

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