March 2013 Volunteer of the Month

Dale Shimer

The mission of The ALS Association emphasizes empowering people with ALS and their families to live fuller lives while providing them with compassionate care and support. Few individuals exemplify that mission like Dale Shimer, our March 2013 Volunteer of the Month.

Patients, families, staff and board members know Dale through his constant presence at The ALS Association Certified Clinic at Pennsylvania Hospital, but talking about Dale goes beyond explaining his work. Dale is a constant example of the kind of compassion and dedication to which we all aspire and that goes even beyond our own work for people with ALS.

This April it will be 14 years since Dale’s wife Marjorie passed away from Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He got involved with the Chapter in earnest six months after her passing, initially at the committee and board member level. One year after that, Dale began volunteering at the Pennsylvania Hospital ALS Clinic. Ever since, Dale has been a constant presence there, providing kindness and comfort to families who are facing a disease that is challenging on its best days. It is no exaggeration to say that Dale makes the difficult journey at least a little less stressful with a gentle greeting and good bye at the end.

“Dale is usually the first face you see at the clinic.  There is a genuineness about him that we noticed right away at our first visit.  Even though he serves quietly, Dale's warmth and generosity help to reassure patients they'll be cared for.  That was our first impression and it has proven to be true.” – Chuck and Christina Morris.

In addition to his impact on patients, Dale has made very positive impression on the Chapter and Clinic staff as well.

“Dale Shimer has been a consistently kind and helpful volunteer at the Penn ALS Center for the past 13 years,” said Gail Houseman, RN, who works with Dale every week at the Penn Clinic. “He’s the guy who meets and greets the PALS and their loved ones and he does so with compassion and knowledge of ALS (and a cup of coffee to boot)!  He is a humble man who has devoted a good deal of his time to caring for those who suffer from ALS.”

The impact has been felt on Dale himself as well. “Volunteering at the clinic has been valuable,” said Dale. “I get to meet some very nice people. On the other hand, it’s tough. A lot of people say they don’t know how I could do it. I hope my background and experience can be useful to people I meet there. It certainly gives me perspective and an appreciation of the staff and the quality of support for families.”

Dale’s steady hand is on display at the Clinic, but that steadiness has also helped guide our board and Chapter for over a decade. His background in business management helped lead the Chapter and manage resources for a time and he continues to provide valuable insight on events and programs while drawing from a wide range of perspectives.

For those who do not know Dale from the clinic, they may know him from the Marjorie Shimer Durable Medical Equipment Loan Program, which he established many years ago. The first year after the loss of Marjorie, Dale wanted to do something to recognize the anniversary of her passing. He wrote a fundraising letter to a few friends and family and it just grew from there. Now he sees people at the clinic every week with equipment that they have received from this essential program.

“Dale has always been helpful in being a 'greeter' at clinical visits. He takes his time to make sure that we are comfortable and offers us beverages if we would like,” said Kevin Glenn, a person with ALS who uses the Penn Clinic. “His foundation recently helped me get a new much needed showerchair. I would like to thank Dale for his smile and warm, compassionate demeanor.”

That, of course, is not all.  Dale continues to participate in the Walk to Defeat ALS®, attending at least one and as many as four in any given year. When he goes to the Greater Philadelphia Walk to Defeat ALS®, patients, families and friends notice his presence. He can make a chilly Saturday in November feel much warmer.

“Dale is a gentle, quiet man who gives whole heartedly without needing recognition,” said Karen Delaney Shideleff, a person with ALS who has worked with Dale on the board and wth many other activities. “His personality puts you at ease immediately. He is compassionate, hard-working and intelligent.  More than anything, he honors his wife's memory by being a wonderful advocate for The ALS Association Greater Philadelphia Chapter.”

In addition to his work at the clinic and in creating the Majorie Shimer Durable Medical Equipment Loan Program, Dale honors his wife as a Visiting Volunteer, spending time with patients and providing comfort and care.

The past decade has seen many changes for The Greater Philadelphia Chapter and Dale Shimer has been there every step of the way. “I am glad to see the continued growth of the Chapter since I’ve been involved,” said Dale. “The Chapter certainly is serving more patients. It gives you a good feeling.”

“I’m also inspired by the board and volunteers. The board’s level of commitment and time is impressive. As a Visiting Volunteer, I’ve developed relationships with volunteers like Kelly Slipakoff, Tom Ricci, and others. We share a common bond. It is great to see the growth of volunteerism through the leadership of Rebecca Pace and Gail Houseman.”

The staff, board, and patients are inspired by Dale on a daily basis.

From our Chapter President Ellyn Phillips: “If you opened a Webster's Dictionary, you would find Dale Shimer  adjacent to many definitions:  compassionate, intelligent, generous, fair, soft-spoken and selfless. Dale is the consummate volunteer, ready, willing and able to handle diverse functions...from welcoming patients at the ALS Association Center at Pennsylvania Hospital every Thursday, to being the Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees, to chairing numerous committees, to attending many Chapter functions, both near and far.

For over 13 years, since his beloved Marge died, Dale's focus has been on the Chapter and especially our patients.  Creating the Marjorie Shimer Durable Medical Equipment Loan Program, enabling countless patients and families to receive numerous items from wheelchairs to a whole host of devices, The Shimer program helps to enhance our patients' quality of life and Dale enhances the quality of our Chapter.”

Thank you Dale for your work, your compassion, but most of all, the example you set every day for all of us.


The ALS Association Greater Philadelphia Chapter
321 Norristown Road - Suite 260, Ambler, PA 19002

The ALS Association is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.