Tori Hansen, Volunteer Coordinator

First impression: Young! Second impression: Enthusiastic and energetic! Third impression: She loves Sunnyside!
Tori learned about Sunnyside when she needed to complete her college degree internship. She explained that the professors had developed a list of places where students had worked in the past and had a good experience. Her major was public health, and when she said she was interested in working with older folks, her professor recommended Sunnyside. She was put in contact with Annie Schaffer and completed her internship here.

Tori has now been at Sunnyside for 5 years. After college, she did not want to leave Sunnyside, so she took a job as a server at the Tartan Grill. When a cook left, she applied for and got that job; not her dream job, but the pay was better. She did not want to leave Sunnyside. She had no experience as a cook, but she is a smart cookie and she learned! She cooked for 1 ½ years. She must have been pretty good; she is happy to say no one got food poisoning! However, she knew it was not the best fit as she missed the interaction she had with the residents as a server.

Soon, an activities assistant position in Health Care opened. She questioned her bravery in applying for the position, but she got the job, and she loved interacting with the residents who relied on her and needed her. She still visits and has morning coffee with one of the residents, building connections within the community. The “Spirit of Sunnyside” rings true for her. She can feel it.

When the volunteer coordinator position became available, she jumped for it. She was familiar with volunteers from working in Health Care. She acknowledged it was a hard decision, as she loved the day-to-day interactions with the residents. It was a step back from one role, but it was also a step up to a new one.

Tori is looking forward to learning how to recruit. She says the volunteers are amazing, but she feels Sunnyside relies too much on the volunteers who are residents. She does not want them to burn out. She knows she will have to “sell” Sunnyside: why volunteer here rather than somewhere else? She wants volunteers to feel the same connections she did with the people here at Sunnyside.

In the meantime, life moved on for Tori. She came to Harrisonburg to attend JMU and lived in that university “bubble.” Then she met Josiah. They had summer jobs at Massanutten Water Park and became friends. Then came a dark and stormy night, and if there is something Tori does not appreciate, it is driving in the rain. She decided to wait it out, but then Josiah offered her a ride home. As they say, the rest is history. Today, they have a beautiful little girl named Elowen, which means the smartest, most beautiful little girl there ever was! Well, actually it is Cornish and means elm tree, but I like my definition better.

Tori describes herself as shy, but if she ever was, she has gotten over it! She loves getting to know the residents; she wants to meet everyone. (Does that sound shy to you?) Tori is clear on who she is and what is important to her. Home? “With my husband. Home is where he is.” Tori does not want to ever leave Sunnyside. She loves the Washington Nationals and can’t wait to go see them play. She wants to stay here, watch their little girl grow up, and continue her walk with Jesus. --Kat Marlowe