Phoebe volunteer celebrates century of laughs
What began as a typical Christmas party for volunteers quickly turned into a roast and birthday party for one volunteer Dec. 8 at Phoebe Home, Allentown.
Alyce Tokus, a 25-year volunteer with the nursing home turned 100 on Dec. 6.
"I was raised in Radnor," Tokus said. "At the time, it was full of large estates.
"In fact, the estate opposite the house I lived in was owned by a member of the Campbell soup family and is now Cabrini College."
Tokus said her favorite part of her day is the time she gets to spend with Phoebe's Community Life staff while doing volunteer work.
She attributes her positive attitude and living so long to being able to laugh every day.
"I heard you are supposed to laugh at least once a day and I am blessed with being able to do it a lot more than that," Tokus said.
Trina Johnson-Brady, community relations specialist with Phoebe Ministries, said Tokus, who works in the Community Life office five half-days a week, looks 30 years younger than she is.
"She is also an independent living resident at The Terrace at Phoebe Allentown, mostly so she can be "close to work," as she describes her volunteer office duties, Johnson-Brady said.
Tokus began volunteering at Phoebe when her husband, Leonard, was a resident, Johnson-Brady said.
"All the employees are good to me," said Tokus. "It makes it a pleasure to come in and help."
Johnson-Brady said Tokus, who has volunteered most of her life, is a big proponent of staying active.
"She believes the time she devotes to Phoebe keeps her going," said Johnson-Brady.
"I enjoy associating with other volunteers and hope sharing my experience will encourage others to volunteer," Tokus said.
Her co-workers in the Community Life Department say Tokus' positive attitude and overall outlook on life help keep them young, even though she is 20, 40 or even 60 years their senior, Johnson-Brady said.
"They love having Alyce around because she lifts their spirits," Johnson-Brady said. "They describe her as being energetic, dedicated, friendly, and sometimes, she seems like she is the happiest woman in the world."
Tokus learned to type in 1929, when she took a business course in high school. She graduated in 1933, Johnson-Brady said.
She became a management analyst for the federal government and later worked at a hospital in Philadelphia.
She and her husband moved to Schnecksville in 1960.
Over the years, Tokus traveled quite a bit, visiting Rio de Janeiro, the Caribbean, Canada and Europe.
Some of her favorite trips involved riverboat cruises with a friend, as she relaxed while watching the sights of Germany, Austria and Romania go by.
"Alyce's sense of well-being is one that is larger than life," said Johnson-Brady. "Being able to do what she wants to do at her age is something for which she is very grateful."
"She loves spending her time volunteering at Phoebe, feels lucky that she gets to use her mind to help others and is able to make other people smile," Johnson-Brady added.
"Alyce is a woman of great character who has lived her life to the fullest and has always found the good in every situation," Johnson-Brady said. "As Abraham Lincoln once said, 'People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.' Alyce has proven that this statement can hold true in every aspect of life. Where Alyce goes, happiness and smiles follow."
Phoebe staff members Donna Henry, volunteer coordinator; wearing a T-shirt bearing Alyce's photo spoke at the roast for Tokus.
"I started working at Phoebe 10 years ago and someone showed me a newspaper article about a Phoebe volunteer who won an Unsung Hero award for volunteering at the age of 90," Henry said. "And here she is today, just as strong."
"I asked her recently what her favorite kind of wine was and she said, 'The kind I don't have to buy!'" Henry said. "So Alyce, I would like you to have this free wine."
Diane Kendra and Diana Sittler, community life coordinators, also roasted Tokus at her birthday party.
"Alyce, the day you can't walk across the street to come to work, I am going to pick you up and carry you. We need you here," Kendra said.
"Alyce always keeps me on track," Sittler said. "When you walk in to her office, she greets you with, 'Can I help you with something? Or, 'do you need anything?' She helps us to focus."
Other Phoebe staff who spoke at the roast included Tracy Baciocco, Melanie Chadwick, Joan Hale, Jenn McLeod, Maureen Stauffer and Joan Wickel.