Vaccine patient returns with gift for WellSpan volunteer, 87, who helped her through fear

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

Daisy Hawthorne has always had a fear of needles — and receiving the COVID-19 vaccine was no different.

Norma Shue, WellSpan Health's oldest volunteer at 87, worked at WellSpan for 20 years, retiring in 1996. She came out of retirement to help give  vaccines to York County residents like Hawthorne.

Though the pair interacted for a total of five minutes on March 26 at the WellSpan Community COVID-19 Vaccination Site, the lasting effects of Shue's kind words and easygoing disposition toward a nervous Hawthorne lasted for weeks.

Hawthorne, of York City, returned not once but twice to the vaccination site. The first time, on Friday, she received her second dose of the vaccine. The second trip was to deliver a surprise to Shue on Sunday, the first day of National Volunteer Appreciation Week.

"She meant a lot to me at that moment, and I think she should know how important it is that she's doing what she's doing," Hawthorne said while holding a bouquet of red and white flowers. "(Shue) didn't have to come out of retirement to do this. She didn't have to come and volunteer to do this."

Volunteer Norma Shue, 87, of York Township, accepts a bouquet of flowers from former vaccination patient Daisy Hawthorne of York City, left, at the WellSpan Community COVID-19 Vaccination Site in the former A.C. Moore location on Loucks Road in York City Sunday, April 18, 2021. Norma, a volunteer at numerous organizations around York County, has volunteered at WellSpan for 17 years after retiring from the healthcare network. She was honored with a bouquet of flowers Sunday – the first day of National Volunteer Appreciation Week – from a former vaccination patient. Bill Kalina photo

A teary-eyed Shue hugged Hawthorne while receiving the flowers, coincidentally arranged with Shue's favorite colors.

The pair shared a quick conversation at Shue's vaccination station. Hawthorne laughed while sharing that Shue helped keep her from passing out — Shue, on the other hand, said she was overwhelmed by the gesture.

Shue, of York Township, worked as the director of children's growth and development at WellSpan Health for 20 years. After retiring in 1996, she turned to volunteering with the health care group in various capacities, including in rehabilitation and physical therapy.

She stepped away from volunteering in 2017, however, when she needed to devote her time to caring for her husband, Gene, who had Alzheimer's and dementia. Gene Shue died in August.

Volunteer Norma Shue, 87, prepares Barb Deller of Springettsbury Township, left, for her vaccination at the WellSpan Community COVID-19 Vaccination Site in the former A.C. Moore location on Loucks Road in York City Sunday, April 18, 2021. Norma, a volunteer at numerous organizations around York County, has volunteered at WellSpan for 17 years after retiring from the healthcare network. She was honored with a bouquet of flowers Sunday – the first day of National Volunteer Appreciation Week – from a former vaccination patient. Bill Kalina photo

"This is the first time in my life I've ever been alone, and with the pandemic, where could I go?" Norma Shue said. "In December I made an approach to try and be a volunteer with the (vaccination) program."

She is now WellSpan's oldest Hope Squad volunteer, according to spokesperson Ryan Coyle.

Shue, who still has an active medical license, said she recently completed new education in order to renew her license for another two years starting in October. 

She said individuals like Hawthorne are the reason why she does what she does.

"She was just so sweet, and it made a really bad situation for me doable," Hawthorne said. "Somebody should do something nice for her, she's doing something nice for so many."

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.