Rocco Yanora, stays busy as an alter server, and reader at St. Cecelia’s and volunteers with Meals on Wheels, Red Cross and an area hospice.S.John Wilkin/The Times Leader
A retired school teacher, Rocca Yanora continues to teach — and learn. • “I would never be the person I am today had it not been for all the positive impacts on my life; now it is my turn to give back,” says Yanora. He retired in 1993 after spending his career teaching social studies, French and Latin at Wyoming Area High School in Exeter. Since his retirement, Yanora has spent the last 16 years serving his community and making a positive impact on everyone he touches. • Yanora, of West Wyoming, spends his days “making a difference.” Whether he is helping with a Red Cross blood drive, delivering Meals on Wheels or visiting homebound patients, Yanora finds great joy and pleasure in his life after retirement. “Everything I do is extremely rewarding,” he says.
After a bout with prostate cancer immediately after retiring, Yanora jumped into community service. He reconnected with the American Red Cross, as he had previously volunteered for school drives during his teaching days, and signed on to serve as an aide during blood drives. Every week, Yanora delivers Meals on Wheels to local residents. He even spent four years on the West Wyoming Borough Council from 2000-2004 working to improve the municipality in which he lives.
His greatest fulfillment, though, seems to come through the work he does for the Hospice of the Sacred Heart. Yanora says his involvement with hospice was meant to be. Several years ago, after attending Mass at St. Teresa’s Church, he saw a brochure looking for hospice volunteers. He had considered other options for his free time, but knew this was the right direction for him.
He volunteers several days a week, visiting patients in nursing homes and their private residences. This allows caregivers of homebound patients an opportunity to run errands or simply take a break.
He also participates in the PATH (Palliative Approach to Treatment at Home) social support program of hospice. Yanora phones patients weekly to talk and see how they are doing.
He takes pleasure in sharing stories with patients and enjoys learning from their life experiences. Having taught social studies for many years, he particularly marvels at the historical facts he learns from veterans as they recall their experiences on the beaches of Normandy, or other pivotal battles. These details could never be found in one of his textbooks.
Yanora laughs as he tells the story of the patient who spoke fluent French. He surprised her with his own ability to speak the language, even entertaining her by singing the French National Anthem. “Some people just need to sit and talk,” says Yanora. “You meet a different kind of people; these are really people who need help.”
Yanora is also a man of great faith. For the past five decades he has volunteered as an usher, lector and CCD teacher in the Catholic Church. Currently he is a parishioner at St. Cecilia’s, Exeter, serving the congregation of that parish. He is also a member of the Wilkes-Barre Chapter of Pennsylvanians for Human Life, a cause close to his heart.
Yanora finds “unexpected joys” in his life after retirement. “There is a kind of joy you get serving others; you can’t put it into words”
When Yanora is not volunteering, he can be found gardening with his wife, Elisabeth, walking or biking.
“The nice thing about what I am doing now as opposed to having a definite schedule, I can choose where I want to be,” he concluded.