Teacher turned volunteer

Published 7:42 pm Monday, April 16, 2012

Vidant Beaufort Hospital volunteer Peggy Waters. (WDN Photo/Kathy Schermerhorn)


Contributing Writer

Every Thursday, you’ll find Peggy Peele Waters at Vidant Beaufort Hospital dressed in her pink-and-white volunteer uniform, ready to help out wherever she can.

A Washington native and mother of five, Waters started her volunteer work at the hospital about 12 years ago after retiring from her full-time teaching career.

“I wanted to do something as a volunteer, and a few friends said I would enjoy (the hospital work), and I do,” Waters said. “I really enjoy the fellowship with the other (volunteers) and meeting and helping the patients.”

Waters is one of the dozens of much-appreciated volunteers at the hospital who do whatever is needed to free others to tackle more-urgent issues. Her work includes guiding patients and newborn babies out of the hospital when they are discharged, transporting medical records and files throughout the hospital, assisting with paperwork and making deliveries to patients.

“We do whatever we are asked to do; the work others don’t have time to do. I find it very gratifying taking the older patients (‘The ones older than me,’ she says, laughing) out to go home. They are so appreciative,” Waters said.

Another favorite aspect of her volunteer work is making blankets and hats for the newborn babies. About half of the volunteers knit or crochet blankets for the newborns so that every baby who needs one can go home swaddled in a warm blanket.

“It really gives you a lift when you go pick up a baby (to go home) and they’re wrapped in your blanket,” Waters said, her face breaking into a warm smile.

Waters wanted to serve as a volunteer, in part, “to give back in some small way for all the good things that have been done for me” and as a way to show her appreciation for the long life she is living.

“There are a lot of heart problems in my family, and I have now reached the oldest age of anyone in my family. I am able to get out and about and I am thankful for that,” she said.

Prior to her volunteer work, Waters taught kindergarten and grades one through three at local schools. She began her teaching career after her children entered grade school, taking a job as a teacher’s assistant. She liked it so much she attended night school while working during the day. Eventually, she received her teaching credential. She taught at Belhaven Elementary School for several years, moving to Pantego Elementary School after a hurricane permanently closed the Belhaven school.

Waters still teaches, working as a substitute at Eastern Elementary School.

“I love working with young children. They’re glad to see you no matter what,” she said.

Though Waters enjoys teaching, sharing time with family and friends and having lunch with her Red Hat group, the Bodacious Babes, it is the gratification and joy she gets from helping out at the hospital, taking care of the babies and patients and working with her fellow volunteers that keeps her spry and going strong.

“I truly enjoy it and look forward to it,” she said.