Monday, April 08, 2019
During National Volunteer Week, BJC recognizes the dedicated individuals across the organization who support the work BJC does, while also making a difference to patients, visitors and staff.
AMH | Donna Richie, left, with surgical services manager Cathy Wagner, is a volunteer in the Alton Memorial Hospital ambulatory surgery department. Richie’s extended family grew four years ago when she responded to an advertisement seeking volunteers for AMH.
“I feel like I have a whole new bunch of friends and family, and the best part is that I get to see them every week,” says Richie. “This hospital took such excellent care of my parents. This is my way to give back. You will get so much in return when you volunteer. It truly is a privilege to volunteer here.”
BJC | Jennifer Soldat, BJC supply chain analytics manager and a 12-year BJC employee, has been volunteering each week for the past three years at the Ronald McDonald House Family Room within St. Louis Children’s Hospital. The Family Room provides a warm and welcoming setting for the parents of pediatric patients, away from the hospital setting, where they can do laundry, take a shower, enjoy a snack and have a sense of normalcy while their child receives care.
Soldat checks people in and out, keeps supplies and snacks stocked, and helps manage the general flow of people in the Family Room. She also finds herself providing driving directions or phone numbers or simply being a friendly person to talk to.
“I like to help people and I like to give back,” she says. “I have the time to volunteer, but more importantly I think, the desire to help people. I feel that I should give back and, I hope, inspire other people to volunteer. My background with volunteering at church provided me with the opportunity to learn about supporting SLCH and the Ronald McDonald House Family Room.
“By volunteering I’ve learned that there are so many people who do need help and support in these situations, and at the same time I’ve learned that this is an area I thrive in, which is very rewarding. There is always a need for volunteers.”
BJC HOSPICE | Mikes Trittler, right, and Peter Campbell, both seniors at Saint Louis University High School, volunteered at Evelyn’s House the entire month of January as part of a service project through their school. Seniors are given the month off from school to volunteer a full school day of time each day.
Trittler and Campbell initially chose Evelyn’s House to work with patients who are military veterans, but found themselves doing much more.
“Coming in to this, I thought hospice would be gloomy and depressing,” says Trittler. “It’s the complete opposite. Positivity is contagious at the house.”
“Our work with the veterans was a powerful experience,” says Campbell. “We listened and were fascinated by their stories, painted rocks with them, gave them certificates in honor of their service and spent time visiting them. By doing these things for the veterans, hopefully we made a difference in their lives.”
“The little things we did, like bake cookies at the end of the day or bring snacks to patients in their room, was a very moving experience for us,” Trittler says, “because they brought joy to the families and patients.”
The young men also helped decorate the room of a pediatric patient. “I never thought I would learn so much about Taylor Swift and Disney princesses,” says Trittler. “I enjoyed every minute of it, knowing that I made one little girl’s stay here extra special.
“This experience made me realize, even more, how important everyone is in your life. It was so incredible, and we were so inspired by it that both of us continue to volunteer at Evelyn’s House.”
BJH | Alana Dinh, left, is a volunteer at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, a student at Washington University and an artist. As a volunteer, she spends about three hours a week visiting patients, running errands for staff and stocking medical supplies in patient rooms on the orthopedic surgery floor, 17400.
“The orthopedics floor couldn’t manage without Alana,” says Mary Holder-Hart, RN, BSN, ONC, assistant nurse manager on the orthopedic surgery unit at BJH. “She is amazing and an asset to our team. When she’s not here because of school, we all ask about her.”
Dinh majored in biochemistry at WU and minored in psychology and design. When she graduates May 17, she plans to attend medical school, but also hopes to stay in St. Louis.
“I like volunteering here because the stories fuel my interest in going into medicine and also inspire me as
an artist,” says Dinh.
BJWCH | Satoko Kimsey’s journey to volunteering at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital and Missouri Baptist Medical Center started 86 years ago in Tokyo, Japan, and has many twists and turns. Along the way, she worked for a medical publishing company, earned a master’s degree in literature, raised a family, was an assistant professor, won a national ballroom dance competition, published two books, and lived in Japan, Michigan, Gainesville, Missouri, and in St. Louis.
“I’ve learned so many things from my life,” she says.
Her life has been fascinating, and it’s clear she doesn’t like boredom, which is why she started volunteering one day a week at MBMC in 2007. She added two days a week at BJWCH the next year. Between the two, she has logged more than 3,500 combined hours of service. “I hated to just stay home,” Kimsey says. “Everyone is so nice, and I need to see people.”
When Kimsey arrives at BJWCH, she heads to the emergency department, where she runs specimens to the lab and helps tidy rooms. Next, she stops by the medical staff office to see how she can help, and then goes to the volunteer office, where she assembles folders for registration, human resources and the Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation Center sites. “She stays until she finishes the project,” says Stephanie Cole, BJWCH volunteer and employee services coordinator. “Everything she does makes a difference.”
CH | Precious Wilson-Cox volunteers at Christian Hospital two mornings a week, running errands, delivering newspapers throughout the hospital, holding down the front desk and answering the phone in the volunteer office.
“I choose to volunteer at Christian Hospital because it’s close to home and I’ve been a patient here in the past and this is my way of giving back to the hospital and my community,” says Wilson-Cox, who’s been volunteering for a year and a half. “I retired from social work and it didn’t take long for me to decide to volunteer here because I was getting bored sitting around the house. This keeps me busy and it’s interesting. I’ve met a lot of people and made some nice friends.”
Wilson-Cox notes that doing things for the hospital and helping people is most rewarding for her. “I would advise anyone to volunteer because if you sit around the house doing nothing, you just get bored and your mind goes blank,” she says. “This keeps you sharp!”
CH | Elaine Kelly can be found two mornings a week in the Christian Hospital volunteer office, where she’s in control at the desk — answering phones, sending her fellow volunteers out on errands, working on special projects and directing office traffic.
Last year, she achieved a milestone when she earned 5,000 lifetime volunteer hours at CH, where she’s volunteered for 18 years. Before that, she was a nurse at CH Northwest in the nursery for 15 years.
“I retired in 1999 when I turned 65, after 43 years as a nurse,” Kelly says. “I got bored and it only took a year before I was here volunteering, first for a short time in the Gift Shop, and in the volunteer office ever since.”
For Kelly, being around people is most rewarding when it comes to volunteering. “I live with my daughter, and I don’t drive and I use a walker, so this way I can come in here, sit at the desk and raise Cain,” Elaine says with a laugh. “My advice to anyone is to try volunteering, because there are lots of different areas to volunteer and the people are great, and the more people you get to know, the more fun you have.”
MBMC | When Helen Smalley retired, she knew she wanted to stay active. She mentioned this desire to one of her Missouri Baptist Medical Center physicians, and he suggested volunteering at the hospital. That was close to 10 years ago and she’s been volunteering ever since.
“MoBap has an incredible volunteer program,” Smalley says. “Greg Biggs, supervisor of volunteers, does a great job coordinating all of the volunteers across the hospital. The people at MoBap go above and beyond. Everyone is so kind and courteous. I have had a great experience here.”
Smalley has volunteered all over the hospital, but in the past couple of years, she’s been in the Cancer Center. She interacts with patients, getting them things to make them more comfortable and calling them to remind them of their appointment times.
“I enjoy getting to know the patients. We talk about life, and I find out how their treatment is going,” she says. “I like making connections with our patients. Sometimes they give me a good laugh that I didn’t even know I needed.”
Helping people is what keeps Smalley coming back year after year. She doesn’t just volunteer at MBMC, she also helps seniors in her community every week. “If I can help somebody, then my life has purpose. It gives me a sense of fulfillment.”
One thing is for sure, the Cancer Center and all of MBMC is lucky to have a shining star like Helen Smalley. If you ever need a pick-me-up, talk with Smalley and you’ll surely leave with a smile on your face.
MBSH | Norma Allen is a relatively new volunteer in the Cancer Treatment Center at Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital. Before her retirement, she worked at the Bank of Sullivan and after she retired, she missed the daily interaction she had with people.
Sandy Pfeiffer, a volunteer in the Cancer Treatment Center, suggested that she check into helping there. Allen wanted something that would keep her busy interacting with people. The Cancer Treatment Center definitely fit the bill. Her job is to make patients’ treatment time as pleasant as possible by meeting personal needs in providing warm blankets, refreshments and a listening ear to ease anxiety.
She often brings in homemade treats to share with the patients and their family members. In addition, she transports medications and test samples to the pharmacy and lab. She says her experience with the patients has been rewarding and fulfilling, and she likes the nursing staff, calling them a “great bunch of ladies.”
“Our volunteers play an extremely important role in making our patients’ experience pleasant,” says Terri Brown, oncology nurse. “We’re very happy that Norma chose to be part of our volunteer team.”
MH | At the last Memorial Hospital Auxiliary membership meeting, in December, Judie Louden, left, and Pearl Spies and were honored by president Mark Turner for their years and hours of service. Spies, a charter member of the Memorial Auxiliary, has given more than 16,000 hours of service, and Louden has given more than 9,000 hours of service — a combined total of more than 25,000 hours.
They both have served in various roles and work together for the Auxiliary’s biggest fund-raiser — the Book Bazaar — which last year raised more than $23,000. Both work on Tuesdays and Thursdays for Book Bazaar preparations.
MH | Jacqueline Smith is known as a dedicated, cheerful volunteer who greets patients and visitors at the information desk at Memorial Hospital Medical Office Building 2. She also volunteers at Memorial Care Center.
MH | Peggy Harris, left, and Denise Hughes are teammates who greet and check in patients in the outpatient surgery center at Memorial Hospital Belleville. Harris began volunteering in 2016 and currently serves on the Auxiliary board as patient services chairperson. Hughes began volunteering in 2015 and is active in community events and volunteering.
PHC | If you come to Parkland Health Center for an appointment on a Tuesday afternoon, chances are Irene Gillespie will greet you and assist you. Gillespie has been an auxiliary volunteer for 12 years. This might sound routine — until you learn that she recently celebrated her 95th birthday.
“I like everything about it,” says Gillespie, when she talks about her volunteer time at PHC. “I have enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve also enjoyed the people I’ve worked with. I like people!”
Gillespie is a busy lady. Her position at the hospital’s front desk keeps her constantly engaged with greeting patients and family members, giving directions, escorting patients to appointments, and answering questions. She also volunteers at Presbyterian Manor in Farmington.
Gillespie retired in 1984 from a long career as a secretary and receptionist at the outpatient clinic at Southeast Missouri Mental Health Center in Farmington. But she certainly didn’t slow down.
Her secret to a long, healthy life? “I just feel like the Lord has blessed me,” she says.
PWH | Dottie Speckert, bottom center, recently celebrated her 95th birthday at Progress West Hospital, where she’s volunteered since 2008 in women’s services/labor and delivery. Speckert is diligent about her role as a volunteer, even requesting that her March 11 birthday celebration be delayed by half an hour, so she could first spend some time serving patients.
SLCH | Chuck Schagrin and Benny, his 110-pound Bernese mountain dog, volunteer at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, where they recently participated in a residents “Noon Conference.” Usually the monthly conference features a speaker or educational component, but once during the year the focus is “wellness” — and the Paws for Hope teams provide the wellness.
Here, five SLCH residents work on their wellness by petting Benny and learning more about what he does at SLCH. The timing of Benny’s visit was good, the residents say, because they’d had a particularly difficult day in the pediatric intensive care unit.
Number of views (673)/Comments (2)
4/8/2019 10:10 AM
HAPPY VOLUNTEER WEEK!!!
I would like to thank all our volunteers throughout BJC. We are blessed to have so many loving people giving up their time to make our patients feel they are important and comfortable. Each and everyone of your volunteers touch so many people we would not be where we are today without them.
Thank you for all that you do!
4/10/2019 9:16 AM
Thanks to our wonderful volunteers at BJC. We couldn't do it without you all.