Celebrating volunteerism

Published 2:01 am Sunday, April 12, 2015

This year, during the week of April 12–18, we celebrate volunteers. In 1974, as a way to “recognize and celebrate the efforts of volunteers,” President Richard Nixon established National Volunteer Week. Since that time, every U. S. President, as well as many of our governors and mayors, have issued a proclamation during National Volunteer Week.

There are many reasons people choose to volunteer: to make new friends and contacts; to increase social and relationship skills; to help stay physically healthy; to gain career experience and learn job skills; to explore interests; to fill time; to give back to the community; to bring fun to your life! There are also many volunteer opportunities. Your volunteer experience will be more fulfilling if you first identify your personal goals and interests; think about why you want to volunteer as well as what you like to do. Your time is valuable, so it is important that you enjoy your volunteer experience.

At Vidant Beaufort Hospital we are blessed to have loyal and faithful volunteers. During the past year we had 87 active adult volunteers and, in the summer, 63 junior volunteers work within our facilities.  Together, they served for 13,952 hours. That is the equivalent of 7.5 full time employees. We also have home based volunteers who make beautiful handcrafted blankets and hats for our newborns and cancer patients; these volunteers donated 3,007 hours.

Our volunteers serve in many areas. Hospital volunteers work in the volunteer workroom, outpatient services, patient access services, and serve on the patient/family experience team. We also have volunteers at the Marion L. Shepard Cancer Center, Vidant Wellness Center, and at Vidant Family Medicine Chocowinity. While our volunteers do not help with hands on patient care, the work that they do offers our clinical staff more time to spend on patient needs, which improves patient care, our main objective. The type of jobs our volunteers do include discharging patients; escorting patients and visitors; delivering flowers, newspapers, dietary trays, and mail to patients; delivering inter-departmental and USPS mail throughout the hospital; transporting specimens to the laboratory, pharmaceuticals to nursing stations, and medical records throughout the hospital; as well as various clerical jobs.

Each summer we have junior volunteers. In order to be a junior volunteer, you must be at least 14 years old by June and have graduated from the 8th grade. (By the time this article is printed the deadline for the applications to be a junior volunteer during the summer of 2015 will have past. If you are interested in this program please consider applying for the summer of 2016. Applications are sent to the schools by February 1st each year.) These students serve for 9 weeks and fulfill the same responsibilities as our adult volunteers. This program offers students the chance to see first-hand the many job opportunities available in the health care industry, learn basic job skills and responsibilities, and learn the importance of serving their community. In 2014, our junior volunteers represented 8 different high schools.

Volunteers are an essential part of our health care system and play an integral role in enhancing patient engagement and quality care. National Volunteer Week is about “inspiring, recognizing, and encouraging people to engage in their communities.” Join us this week in celebrating and recognizing, not only Vidant Beaufort Hospital volunteers, but also volunteers throughout our community.

Jan Hamblin is manager of Volunteer Services at Vidant Beaufort Hospital.