Tue, Jan 24, 2017 at 06:00 AM
Marshall Medical North and South each have their own Volunteer Auxiliary whose members can be seen buzzing around the hospitals in their bright pink smocks.
expect medical care when they go to a hospital, but they may get a little
something extra thanks to an army of volunteers who happily donate their time
to make the experience as positive as it can be.
are the extra that allows us to give exceptional customer service,” says Diane
Butler, director of volunteer services at Marshall Medical Center North. “A
hospital has to have volunteers. The customer service is what keeps our
patients coming back.”
support for the hospitals, visitors, patients and staff, says Cheri Powers,
director of volunteer services at South, where the Auxiliary Volunteers serve
in the gift shop and at the surgery waiting room desk.
function in assisting patients and family members with something as simple as
directions or helping pick out the perfect gift, balloon or candy,” Powers says.”
“Many of our volunteers have been here from 15 to 25 years. We have had mothers
that volunteered and then their daughters have volunteered with us, as well as retired
teachers, friends of volunteers and other retired professionals.”
Due to aging
and health issues, both hospitals desperately need more people willing to
donate their time. Volunteers are asked to work two four-hour shifts a month, but
can work more if they would like. Most volunteers are women but men are welcome
good volunteers,” Butler says. “It’s definitely open to men too.”
choose to work morning, afternoon or evening shifts. They also help during
fundraising sales, which, along with gift shop sales, pay for special projects
for the hospital.
we make goes back into the hospital,” says Sandra Gilliland of Boaz, president
of South’s Auxiliary, which handles the business side of volunteering. As non-profits,
the Hospital Auxiliaries reinvest the money they earn from the gift shop as
well as from jewelry and book sales back into the hospitals to pay for a
variety of projects from improvements at the Marshall Cancer Care Center to warming
beds for newborns and modernized wheelchairs.
the longest serving volunteer at South, with 21 ½ years under her smock. She
started volunteering every other Saturday morning while she was still working
full time for an insurance company. When she retired after 35 years, Gilliland
took on two more days at the hospital.
customer service side of my life,” she says. “Knowing you’re providing a
service for people just makes life worth living. It really does.”
North has a
volunteer who has served for 46 years. Nada Hornbuckle of Arab started
volunteering at the old Arab Hospital then moved to Marshall North when it
opened in 1990. Another longtime volunteer from Arab, 95-year-old Christine Fowler,
still comes to the hospital every Wednesday to deliver The Advertiser-Gleam to
that donating their time is rewarding and helps them as much as others. Many of
them also need someone to talk to.
“I enjoy it
because I run into so many people from years back it’s like a reunion,” says
Betty Bowen of Albertville, who works at the South O.R. desk making coffee and
giving people directions. “I like helping people. It gets me out of the house.”
in a hospital gift shop is part candy salesperson and part therapist. Many of
the people who wander into the tiny but cheerful space are looking for a kind
face and someone who will listen.
patients come down who have been in the hospital a few days and they just need
somebody to talk to,” says Brenda Smith of Crossville, who has volunteered in
the Marshall South gift shop for nearly 15 years. “Some of them are just
Smith Murphy volunteered two years ago after her husband died.
“It gave me
something to do and something to think about,” she says. “I like talking to
people and trying to make them feel better.”
the gift shop sells more individual pieces of candy than anything, followed
closely by balloons.
is cheaper than the machines so a lot of our customers are employees,” she
Davidson, buyer for the gift shop at North, says baby items are big sellers
there followed by flowers and candy.
Hendrix, president of the North Hospital Auxiliary, started volunteering at
North a year after she retired from teaching 30 years in the Arab school
system. She enjoys sitting at the information desk in the hospital lobby
because it gives her to chance to reconnect to people she hasn’t seen in years.
She also enjoys helping people get to where they need to go.
them to places rather than just give directions so they have a personal
contact,” she says. “I really like it.”
North also has a small group of volunteers called Angels for Special Patients who provide relief for
families by sitting with patients from infants to elderly. To volunteer at
North for this program, the information desk, E.R., the lab, pharmacy or gift
shop, pick up an application in the main lobby or call Diane Butler at
To volunteer at South in
the gift shop or the O.R. information desk, please call Cheri Powers at