Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said or what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
For anyone who has used Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital, there’s no doubt that they remember how the hospital’s volunteers connected with them on a personal level.
Proudly wearing their blue vests and smocks, this group of 122 volunteers offers a friendly smile, warm greeting and a soothing voice to patients and visitors at a time when they are often scared or anxious.
“They add a personal touch that helps make our patients feel at ease,” said Rose Jensen, volunteer coordinator. “These are ordinary people doing extraordinary things to help improve the health of their community. They truly are the heart of our hospital.”
Volunteers not only give their time and talent through in-hospital volunteer opportunities, but also through advocacy and fundraising.
“Our volunteers are major donors to the hospital’s Foundation,” Jensen said. “Their most recent pledge of $125,000 was paid off two years ahead of schedule and helped with the construction of the new helicopter landing pad and family consultation room in the emergency department.”
The volunteers are currently raising $150,000 to support the Family Birthing Center. They raise money through the gift shop, selling popcorn, hosting monthly vendor sales and special events such as a new “Jingles in July” fundraiser being planned for this summer.
Volunteers are not paid, but are richly rewarded
Ellie Huff is the hospital’s longest tenured volunteer, having started in 1975. At 88 years old, Huff continues to volunteer twice a week as a mail courier.
“People always tell me that I’m doing a good service by volunteering at the hospital,” Huff said. “But I always tell them that I get just as much out of it as I put into it.”
As a widow, Huff says volunteering allows her to get out of the house and socialize.
Al Carlson, 85, has been volunteering at the hospital since 1993 and says the best part of volunteering is the relationships he has made during the past 23 years.
“It’s become a second family for me,” said Carlson. “We are all very close.”
As part of Carlson’s volunteer duties, he collects items to be recycled from each department. He recommends that anyone looking to give back to their community should consider volunteering.
“There are a lot of opportunities at the hospital,” Carlson said. “You just have to find one that fits your interests, whether that’s in the gift shop or one of the departments. The staff does a really good job at matching people’s talents with what’s available.”
For volunteers like Huff and Carlson, they say they are fortunate to have good health and to be able to continue volunteering into their golden years. As far as they are concerned, there is no end in sight for their volunteer careers.
“I look forward to volunteering each week,” Huff said. “I like doing it, it’s a fun job. I’ve been doing it for 41 years and as long as they’ll have me, I’ll keep on coming—hopefully for another 41 years.”