Our Volunteer Partners

Associate Chaplains

Associate Chaplains are volunteers with four or more units of Clinical Pastoral Education, theological education, and are endorsed/ordained.

  • Rabbi Irvin Beigel holds a Bachelors degree from Queen's College in New York, as well as an M.H.L. and ordination as a Rabbi from the Jewish Theological seminary. After serving in synagogues for many years, he completed 4 units of Clinical Pastoral Education. In addition to visiting Jewish patients, Rabbi Beigel conducts a weekly televised Shabbat program from the Interfaith Chapel. He is well known for appearing as a clown on the Jewish holiday of Purim each year.
  • Rev. Rayne Dabney joined our team in 2001. A licensed Vineyard Church minister, she comes to us from Cincinnati, Ohio and is a graduate of Mt. St. Mary's Seminary where she completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education. Her pastoral specialities include Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Neurological Intensive Care step down. When she is not involved in her hospital ministry, Rayne devotes her life to her beloved partner Fred and his family.

Assistant Chaplains

Assistant Chaplains are volunteers who have completed one to three units of Clinical Pastoral Education from an accredited program. Our Assistant Chaplains have some theological education and the ability to demonstrate sufficient professional chaplaincy competencies.

  • Rev. Helen Beck has been an Assistant Chaplain with Spiritual Care at University Hospital since her completion of a Clinical Pastoral Education unit in May 2005. As an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church, she currently serves churches in the Madrid area. Helen's passion for ministry derives from her desire to help people find healing and wholeness through spirituality.
  • Rev. Tamara Davis completed a unit of CPE at Upstate. Employed full-time by the City of Syracuse, she still finds time to volunteer as a member of our hospital choir.
  • Sandy Moldenhauer decided to volunteer at Upstate after completing a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education training in the summer of 2011. His accomplishments include receiving a MA in Pastoral Theology and Ministry from Luther Northwestern Seminary in St. Paul, MN and numerous sales and management awards through 3M. Sandy survived a critical auto accident, was in 37 day coma and with a traumatic brain injury while in college. While serving as a volunteer fire fighter and Hazmat Technician in New York he was diagnosed and successfully treated with quadruple bypass surgery January 2011. Sandy can be found in the Upstate Emergency Department every Friday morning, at Crouse every Monday morning and at the VA hospital on Thursdays.
  • Bishop Ronald L. Russell spent 24 years in the US Air Force and then became a minister in the Church of God, Cleveland, Tennessee in 1981. Rev. Russell became the Bishop over Northern New York and Senior Pastor of the Lighthouse Mexico Church of God in January 1994. Bishop Russell has also produced the radio program "Look What the Lord has Done" covering Central and Northern New York for the past 16 years. He has also run feeding programs for the hungry, feeding well over 60,000 people in the last 8 years. He serves Upstate as an Assistant Chaplain.
  • Gracia Sears came to volunteer in Spiritual Care via nursing (University of Rochester) and art (BFA from Syracuse University.) She began her career in public health and then moved on to work with the needy in community settings using art as a healing modality. In 2001 she completed one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education, and is now an Assistant Chaplain. She authored the manual "Art and Spirituality." When a terminally ill patient finds a bit of respite while coloring a mandala and thanks her profusely, she knows she has succeeded in comforting them.
  • Rev. Betsy Spaulding started her chaplaincy training with a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. She was ordained in Connecticut and has ministered to several small Unitarian Universalist congregations in New York State. In 2007 she attended the Pediatric Chaplain's Institute at Little Rock AK Children’s Hospital. Currently she visits with patients weekly and she serves as "On-Call" chaplain once a month. One special joy is being a member of the Upstate Hospital Choir. "I get satisfaction from being present with patients, listening and lifting spirits with a prayer, a conversation or a song, so I keep coming back."

Spiritual Care Volunteers

Spiritual Care Volunteers may be lay or ordained persons who volunteer four or more hours a week to do patient visitation, assist in the office, provide music ministry, or other needed functions.

  • Jody Carney can be found at the keyboard in the Chapel most weekends as our musician/cantor for Mass. She is also an Eucharistic Minister.
  • Barbara Dayton is one of the faithful Saturday gang, serving as Eucharistic Minister.
  • Gloria Hoffman started out as a bookkeeper, became an ob-gyn nurse for 10 years, then moved on to become a certified K-12 teacher working as a sub in many schools. She is a lifelong member of Pine Meadows Wesleyan Church in Altmar, NY. Living in Pulaski, she drives an amazing 40 miles one way to volunteer as an office assistant and choir member in Spiritual Care. A veteran of 50 surgeries, Gloria knows the healthcare system intimately as a patient. Because of this, and her faith commitment, she felt led to join us.
  • Rev. John Hottenstein is ordained in the United Church of Christ and taught for many years at SU's Newhouse School. His wife Pat is a retired nurse and sees Spiritual Care as "the best part of nursing." John states, "I'm retired and here I feel that I'm needed."
  • Bertha Jacobs has been a Spiritual Care volunteer since early 2006. A former psychiatric social worker and current member of Tucker Missionary Baptist Church, She states, "It is truly a wonderful opportunity to encourage our patients and their families to reach to their faith traditions for strength and support not only when they face the challenges of life, but every day!"
  • Patricia Leonard comes to Spiritual Care remembering that from the time she was a child, her grandmother Nana felt she had a gift for praying and being present with those who are ill. Pat has expressed that gift throughout her life in many different ways—she is an artist, poet, and a natural story teller with a great sense of humor. In addition to these forms of ministry, Pat has also enjoyed a long career as a professional clown, with a focus on children and fundraising for children's causes. Pat seems to be living out her Nana's prediction as a welcome partner in spiritual care!
  • Vincent and Andrea Pace have been married for 45 years. They both enjoy volunteering at Upstate immensely, and also volunteer once a week at Francis House, a local home for the dying. They are devout Catholics and enjoy bringing God into the lives of patients and families. Vince can be spotted easily, with his pinstripe shirt and his Yankee bow-tie.
  • Louise Powless was an administrator for Verizon for 42 years. She is a Eucharistic Minister and she enjoys volunteering with Spiritual Care because she "gets more back than she gives."
  • Bob Sedgwick has been a part of Spiritual Care here at Upstate for over six years. His volunteering has provided a wonderful and diverse opportunity for growth and knowledge in a clinical setting; as well as an opportunity to serve. Bob also volunteers in his Catholic parish and local community as a Eucharistic Minister, lector and visitor to senior housing.
  • Rev. 'Jerry' Shave, Protestant Chaplain at Upstate for 41 years, continues with us as a weekly pastoral visitor and on-call clergy.
  • Steffany Thomas is a graduate of Wells College, where she majored in religious studies. She has had various human service positions since her graduation and also received a paralegal certificate from Syracuse University. She is certified as a Level I Reiki (a healing touch therapy) practitioner and does Reiki here at Upstate. She loves graphic design and assists with many Spiritual Care publications. She also recently developed the PowerPoint presentation featured on the Spiritual Care Channel, Channel 40. Volunteering in Spiritual Care is a very fulfilling experience for her, and she is happy to assist with any project she is assigned.
  • Mary Tolone is retired from Upstate, where she worked as a surgical technician. She volunteers because she likes being with patients and staff. As a member of the choir, she loves to sing and shares that with patients on Tuesday afternoons.
  • Lenore Vaccarello is a volunteer whose background is in formal and life education. She is semi-retired, keeping a hand in her educational foundation by substitute teaching. Her work with children and parents throughout her career inspired her to volunteer at Golisano Children's Hospital where she assists the Pediatric Chaplains. Storytelling is one of her keenest interests. She hopes to be a published author someday./li>
  • Walt Wasilewski, a Catholic lay volunteer, prays with and supports people of all faiths at Upstate University Hospital. A good friend, Fr. Innocent, invited him to join the team four years ago. He teaches journalism at Syracuse University, where he earned a master's degree, and writes for magazines. His undergraduate degree in English literature is from the State University College at Oswego. He worked at The Post-Standard for 27 years as a reporter and editor before retiring in 2007.
  • Mary Winter was Director of Probation for many years. She is a dedicated member of the Cathedral downtown and divides her time between the golf course and being a Spiritual Care volunteer.
Open the Eyes of My Heart by Walt Wasilewski with Imani Shabazz

Open the Eyes of My Heart by Walt Wasilewski with Imani Shabazz
This book tells the stories of spiritual care volunteers serving at Upstate University Hospital. Contributions are gratefully accepted so that we can continue to distribute this booklet free of charge.

HealthLink on Air Radio Show

Compassionate Rounds for Healthcare Providers

Rev. Virginia Lawson, PhD,
talks about a new program coming to Upstate called the Schwartz Compassionate Rounds External link, designed to promote the importance of healthcarte professionals listening to one another to enhance patient care.