Guild helps patients at mental facilities

GOLDEN RULE FINALIST FOR GOLDEN RULE

April 25, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

To a patient who has spent many years on a ward of the Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville, one day can seem depressingly like the last.

But some local volunteers are working to break that monotony.

For 44 years, members of the Golden Rule Guild for Mental Aid have done what they can to help patients at mental institutions. They hold parties, take patients bowling, buy equipment for wards and give money to organizations that help deinstitutionalized patients.

"They really need you," said guild President Mae Rones. "They need to know somebody cares."

The J. C. Penney Co. announced Wednesday that the guild had won a $250 prize as a finalist in the 10th annual Maryland J. C. Penney Golden Rule Volunteer Awards, which are presented to Maryland's exceptional volunteers.

"I am so thrilled," said Betty Jean Maus, director of volunteers at the Springfield Hospital Center. "They are a fantastic group. They go the extra mile."

The guild throws monthly parties at Springfield and at Spring Grove Hospital in Catonsville. Patients attend to eat ice cream, chat over coffee or play bingo.

"It brightens their life," Mrs. Maus said.

"Very few people ever come to visit these people," said Mrs. Rones.

Many of the patients the group visits are elderly and have lived at

Springfield for years. Some are not very aware of their surroundings, Mrs. Rones said. But she added, "You know that some of them know you're there."

Mrs. Rones has worked with the group for 33 years.

The guild's recording secretary, Regina Steinberg, has been a member for 44 years, since shortly after the guild was formed in 1949.

Some Baltimore County women organized the guild after they read a newspaper article about the depressing circumstances of patients in mental hospitals.

"One of the girls said, 'We ought to do something about this,' " Mrs. Rones said.

She said the guild has about 40 members.

In addition to the parties, guild members give financial support to services for people with mental illness who have left institutions.

Mrs. Rones said the group regularly sends money to organizations such as the Grace and Hope Mission, the House of Ruth and the Helping Up Mission.

The Golden Rule Guild also provides for material needs of patients in mental institutions. Guild members bought a TTY system for the deaf ward at Springfield. They also supplied a videocassette recorder and camera, so patients can make their own videos.

Mrs. Rones said the group has also bought many coffee urns over the years for patients' parties.

Mrs. Steinberg her husband, her daughter and a 14-year-old grandson help with guild activities.

For her, the most frustrating part of the work is that so much money has been cut from the budgets of institutions that care for people with mental disabilities.

"Today, if a patient can move one foot in front of another, they go out into the community," she said.

Both Mrs. Steinberg and Mrs. Rones praised the hospital staff.

"We feel we are helping the attendants as much as we are helping the patients, if not more," Mrs. Steinberg said. "If they need anything, they know they can ask us."

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