Yorkers volunteer in Philadelphia for papal visit
Kim Henise was sitting in the kitchen with her father one evening as he washed the dishes in their York City home.
Even though she was only 5 years old at the time, she remembers him cleaning the inside of a McDonald's glass featuring the character Grimace with a washcloth, and then shattering it.
"He needed stitches," Henise said. "When we got to the hospital, he was worried that I was going to be a mess because I was young and there was blood, but when he went in to get his stitches done, I told him I wanted to watch. I said, 'Wow, they're really sewing you!'"
When they got home, her dad threw out every free McDonald's glass in the house.
Ever since that incident, Henise has felt a draw to the medical field and caring for others.
So in 1996, she became an EMT. Now, nearly 20 years later, the former paid and volunteer EMT has maintained her license but works as a business manager for a home health care agency in York.
Her work will take her to Philadelphia this weekend, where she will join thousands of other volunteers for the papal visit.
Volunteering: As a member of the Emergency Medical Service Federation, the 45-year-old York Township resident has attended annual conferences and training sessions that put her on the mailing list that ultimately led her to field a request for volunteers for Pope Francis' visit.
"I didn't think in a million years I'd be selected," Henise said. "It's just fascinating to me that I got picked. To have an email come back saying that I'd actually be able to go — I was sitting there looking at my computer thinking, 'This is really amazing.'"
Henise will leave for Philadelphia on Friday and, as a licensed EMT, will be stationed within a certain "protection zone" for the weekend.
"We're essentially going to be on standby to help people who are getting sick and things like that," she said. "There's going to be 2 million-some people there, and they're going to need our support and resources."
Henise, who spent her entire education in Catholic school, is definitely looking forward to seeing the pope.
"He's the coolest pope I've had in my lifetime," she said.
"He's just much more with the times, and it seems like he's really trying to reunite the Catholics with the church.
"The energy surrounding the visit is going to be amazing, but I would love to get a glimpse of him, just a glimpse."
Salvation Army: Henise won't be the only Yorker volunteering this weekend.
York County residents Mary and Paul Auman are among those from The Salvation Army's Emergency Disaster Services who also will make their way to Philadelphia, where they will serve meals to police officers, firefighters and other first responders by way of white canteen trucks.
The 100 or so volunteers are expected to dish out nearly 95,000 meals, said Alexandra Ferber, spokeswoman for the Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware Division of the Salvation Army.
Because the food being served was donated by Wawa, volunteers this week also received a crash course in hoagie-making, Ferber said.
"These folks are going to be out there pulling 12-hour shifts and sleeping in cots," Ferber said. "They're going to be working hard."
Paul Auman has worked with Emergency Disaster Services — a section of the Salvation Army that offers support to first responders in disasters — and was asked to volunteer, said Major Dennis Camuti, corps officer with the Salvation Army of York.
Ferber said the mission of the pope and that of the Salvation Army are very similar.
"When this opportunity came up in Philadelphia, we wanted to show our support for the city and demonstrate what the Salvation Army does best: doing the most good," she said.
— Reach Jessica Schladebeck at firstname.lastname@example.org.