Recently, Russ Jones, a longtime patron to Hospice of the Chesapeake, brought two friends to the administrative building in Pasadena to get a tour of the campus. The two men were interested in volunteering and were led by Director of Volunteer Services, Diane Sancilio, who introduced them to one of the chaplains. She explained to the people on the tour that this was a man who was deeply devoted to his volunteer work, and that he so enjoyed his ministry, he seemed to never want to go home.
“That’s just like me!” A voice piped up from the back of the tour. That burst of enthusiasm warmed Jones’ heart, because it came from his grandson, Robert Candella. Candella absolutely loves volunteering, and rearranges his schedule to serve as much as he can.
His mother, Kim Candella, said he was welcomed with open arms by the volunteer department. “They’re very kind, they’re very generous,” she said. And that works well with her son, who she said is loving, kind and generous, too. “He has a golden-heart.” She said. “It’s an absolute perfect fit.”
The 22-year-old Severna Park native was homeschooled through high school, graduating in 2012. He is working toward his graphic design certificate at Anne Arundel Community College. You can see a lot of his work at https://designbyrobert.files.wordpress.com. He gets a lot of “homework” from the staff at Hospice of the Chesapeake as he lends his growing graphic design expertise to projects for the nonprofit.
When asked what he likes most about volunteering at Hospice of the Chesapeake, he said, “I like it all.” Pressed with the suggestion that his love for graphic design might make that more of a favorite thing to do than say, envelope stuffing, he smiled and said, “Yes, I like graphic design. But I like stuffing envelopes, too.”
This attitude is what makes Candella the perfect volunteer – he enjoys whatever task he is asked to do. Since starting in July 2014, he has become a priceless asset and a cheerful friend to Hospice of the Chesapeake.
“Robert is always willing to help in whatever capacity we need and he does it with a smile. He is creative, kind and a hard worker. Our lives here are better because of him,” Sancilio said.
Candella gives so much we wonder what he gets back? His mother said it’s the friendships. “He considers everyone he works with in the volunteer department and (Chesapeake Life Center) his friends,” she said. “He would do anything to help them out at the drop of a hat.”
“Robert is truly a breath of fresh air,” Volunteer Coordinator Allison Kuchar said. “He is a pure, genuine person who has so much to give.”
When the straight-A student is not in classes or splitting time volunteering here and at his church, he enjoys golfing and going to concerts. His favorite band? “Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band,” was his immediate response. When asked how he manages to get tickets to those concerts, he grinned and said, “The lead guitarist is my dad’s cousin.”
Must be nice to be related to Nils Lofgren! And he has another thing in common with Lofgren: “Robert plays the guitar very well,” his mother said. Maybe we’ve found another gift Candella can share with our patients here at Hospice of the Chesapeake.