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LVHN Volunteer Violet Feden to Celebrate 100th Birthday May 15

When she turned 75, Violet Feden decided she belonged in the hospital. Not because she was sick. The Allentown resident wanted a new adventure, and hospital volunteering seemed like the perfect choice. Remarkably, a quarter century has passed, and Feden is still helping patients and staff at Lehigh Valley Hospital–17th Street.

“Helping others is extremely rewarding,” she says. “I especially like helping out in a community hospital.” Feden delivers cards and flowers to patients and performs various clerical tasks in the volunteer office. “I also really enjoy the time I spend with my fellow volunteers,” she says.

The feeling is mutual. The 5-foot-2 inch dynamo inspires her volunteer peers with boundless optimism and an impish giggle that never quits. “Violet’s a real role model who leads by example,” says volunteer coordinator Lynn Schaeffer.

Feden received her 25-year volunteering pin at LVHN’s annual Volunteer Recognition event last month. Although her actual birthday is May 15, colleagues surprised her with a birthday cake and a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday. What did Feden wish for as she blew out the candles? “Continued good health,” she says. “I’m amazed I made it this far.”

World Traveler

Far also describes the path Feden’s life has taken. Born in Chicago, Feden also lived in Cleveland, Boston, Detroit, New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., where she once chatted up First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt after a chance meeting on the street. “I said, ‘I know you,’ and that started the conversation,” she recalls.

Feden moved to Allentown in 1983, settling into the home on West Chew Street she now shares with her daughter, Deborah, a nurse practitioner at the hospital. She has two sons, Robert and Preston. Her husband, Irving, passed away in 1986, months shy of their 50th anniversary.

After her children left the nest, Feden earned a special education degree – at age 51. A 16-year career as an industrial therapist followed. Retirement gave her time to indulge her passion for travel. Egypt, China, India, Australia, Mexico, Europe and South America are among the places she visited. “When you see the poverty in some of these areas, you realize how lucky we are,” she says.

This appreciation for life’s simple things serves her well. Regardless of the weather, Feden always walks to the hospital for her volunteer shift. She believes the exercise helps keep her healthy (see below for her other long-life secrets).

How long will she continue volunteering? “Another 100 years,” she says, “or at least until I can’t get out of bed. I guess that’s when I’ll stop.”

Violet’s Long Life Secrets

  1. Stay positive. “Eventually your problem will go away, or you’ll find a solution.”
  2. Avoid red meat. “I prefer fish, chicken, veggies and fruit.”
  3. Don’t smoke. “I quit when I was 35.”
  4. Exercise. “I do lots of walking and have three flights of stairs at home.”
  5. Laugh. “I don’t watch much TV, but I enjoy ‘Everybody Loves Raymond.’”
  6. Beer. “I have a few bottles a week.”