Called to Service: Volunteers fill a variety of hospital needs – Natural Self Esteem

SNMH Auxiliary Member Adrienne Perreault and Auxiliary President Fran Thompson pose in the hospital gift shop in 2021; SNMH Foundation Volunteer Outreach Committee Members Linda Rasmussen, Katy Schwarz and Kathleen Lombardi are volunteering their time and talent to decorate the 2021 SNMH Outpatient Center lobby Christmas tree; Paul Faahs prepares delicious and nutritious meals for patients undergoing cancer treatment; and an example of the beaded bracelets made by SNMH Foundation volunteers that benefited the SNMH Community Cancer Center.

Next week, volunteers across the country will be honored as part of National Volunteer Week (April 17-23). Each year, this week is set aside to celebrate and recognize the impact volunteers of all ages and backgrounds have on their neighbors. Through the time and effort that volunteers so generously give, they are able to positively impact the well-being of countless people in their own communities and beyond.

Close to home, you need look no further than our local community hospital to see the impact a few dedicated and selfless volunteers can make.

“Volunteers make a tremendous difference to the work of the SNMH Foundation and the hospital,” commented Kimberly Parker, Executive Director of the SNMH Foundation.

Volunteers for the SNMH Foundation and at the hospital include both men and women from a variety of backgrounds and ages. Parker says there are a variety of volunteer roles at the hospital, with a range of responsibilities.

“Volunteers are needed to work at the hospital with our auxiliaries and chaplains and at the SNMH Foundation office, events, committees and more,” she explains.

SNMH Foundation volunteer responsibilities include serving on event committees, either as committee chair or member. Events include more formal gatherings like Starry, Starry Nights and Martinis and a Movie, as well as activity-based events like the SNMH Foundation Golf Tournament and the Barbara Schmidt Millar Women’s Triathlon and 5K.

Volunteers often help set up and tear down events, but also fill more skilled positions such as lighting, staging, and sponsorship and fundraising.

“Some volunteers want a steady volunteer job, while others want the occasional call,” Parker explained. “There are great opportunities for all interests.”

SNMH Foundation volunteer Liz Meyers has dedicated her time and energy for the past seven years. She spends time each week in the SNMH Foundation office helping with data entry, mailings, inventory or whatever the staff needs.

While the staff are grateful for her generous help, she says the time she spends volunteering benefits her too.

“Volunteering is an added structure and chore to my week,” says Meyers. “It’s my way of giving back. And it’s easy because the employees and the board are very grateful and keep telling me that.”

The SNMH Foundation’s Comfort Cuisine program uses volunteers to prepare, cook, wrap and transport meals for cancer patients and their caregivers to the SNMH Community Cancer Center. In addition, SNMH volunteers help create beautiful beaded bracelets that are sold to benefit the cancer center.

Within the hospital, volunteers fill a variety of roles. The SNMH Auxiliary has five service areas within the hospital that are regularly attended by volunteers – the Main Lobby, Gift Shop, Nursing Floor, Emergency Room, and Ambulance Lobby.

In addition, there are volunteers like Dianne Marshall who serve as spiritual care volunteers for both patients and staff.

“My goal is to visit patients and staff—to ‘meet’ them where they are,” Marshall explains. “I listen effectively to explore hopes and fears for the end of life or significant life turning points. I also share information I have gained through listening with the hospital chaplain, nursing staff and medical social workers.”

Marshall says her time spent in the hospital helps her find balance, depth, and perspective in her own life.

“It’s selfless work,” she says. “I like to be part of something bigger than myself. I cherish the moments when I feel I have given a certain level of comfort, appreciation and compassion to a patient, their family or a hospital worker.”

Marshall encourages anyone interested in volunteering.

“This voluntary service offers us a great spiritual deepening and support,” she says. “If that appeals to you, come to us.”

Meyers agrees, pointing out that volunteering benefits everyone involved — including the volunteer.

“Volunteering is an opportunity to learn something new,” she says. “You meet new people and become useful in a broader sense.”

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