December 18, 2014

Elyria
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Retired nurse wins Ruth Calta Community Service Award

 Marilyn Chavalia, a retired RN from EMH and a volunteer at Mercy Regional Medical Center, reads Vernon Hughes' blood pressure by at the AIDS Walk in 2010. CHRONICLE FILE

Marilyn Chavalia, a retired RN from EMH and a volunteer at Mercy Regional Medical Center, reads Vernon Hughes’ blood pressure by at the AIDS Walk in 2010. CHRONICLE FILE

LORAIN — Marilyn Chavalia was ambivalent about winning Mercy Regional Medical Center’s Ruth Calta Community Service Award Sunday.

Chavalia said she was initially uncomfortable with receiving an award for her extensive volunteering.

“The Bible tell us not to brag and I felt that was bragging,” Chavalia said by phone after the ceremony at the hospital.

Chavalia said as the list of her accomplishments was read, she felt better about the award.

“I said, ‘Gee, I didn’t realize I did all that,’” Chavalia said. “It did make me feel good that I did get the award.”

Chavalia was selected from three finalists nominated by Mercy staff and citizens, according to an email from LeAnn Hastings, a Mercy spokeswoman.

The other finalists were Peggy Battle, a volunteer at Mercy Women’s Health Center and the Mercy Thrift Shop, and Pam Belskis, a volunteer at Mercy Women’s Health Center and spiritual care services department.

Calta, who died in 2004, was one of the 40 founding members of the former Lorain Community Hospital and a founding member of the hospital’s women’s auxiliary.

The award was established in 2005.

Chavalia, 82, of Grafton, said she spent 28 years as a registered nurse at EMH Elyria Medical Center and then seven years at a private practice.

She said she has always volunteered because of her religious beliefs in helping the needy.

Chavalia also volunteers with her church, the Grafton United Methodist Church, in addition to volunteering with the program. Chavalia leads the church’s Alzheimer’s group and takes blood pressures in visits to area churches and nursing homes, according to a Mercy news release.

Chavalia also prepares food for monthly community dinners and for families following funerals.

In addition, Chavalia provides meals and childcare for Family Promise, a group that helps homeless people, and she oversees the church’s rummage sales twice per year.

Chavalia, a mother of four and grandmother of four, said the people she helps are grateful and she plans to continue volunteering. Chavalia said she juggles her responsibilities by prioritizing.

“I tell people, you take time to do the things you want to do,” she said. “I just make the time to do it.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.