There are as many reasons to volunteer as there are volunteers. Some who step up are looking for added meaning to their lives. Some are hoping to find new friends. Some wish to continue using the skills they developed during their professional careers. Some want to feel like they are part of a larger effort. And some simply want to give back.
Described as “the cream of the crop” by Nancy Thomes, Director of Volunteer Services, YRMC volunteers enhance the patient experience and provide much needed support to YRMC staff and physicians. They work in a myriad of ways across the hospital to keep things running smoothly.
Recently, YRMC Volunteer Services named its choices for the 2020 Volunteers of the Year. An annual tradition, it celebrates three deserving volunteers whose service to the hospital, its patients and the community at large embodies the Mission and Vision of YRMC.
While the top picks for 2020 have a wide range of reasons for volunteering, they share one impressive trait: a true passion for the work they do.
Tom Hubbard – West Campus 2020 Volunteer of the Year
Hubbard was not new to volunteering when he joined YRMC. He had previously volunteered for Meals on Wheels and the Lions Club.
In 2012, his wife died after a long illness. “After a while, I decided that I could either sit at home doing nothing or get out and get busy. I got on with the Emergency Department at YRMC,” Hubbard says.
He has been a volunteer at YRMC for 8 years and has logged more than 4,000 hours.
Hubbard had continued his involvement with the Lions newspaper recycling project as well, collecting newspaper from around town and making sure the shredded documents from YRMC are bagged and out to the curb for pick up each week.
“As COVID 19 restrictions started lifting and we started to re-open some of the volunteer service areas, Tom was first to say, ‘put me where you need me,’” Thomes recalls. “We were so grateful. He is now supporting the Information Desk, which is where we had the greatest need.”
“I like this job because I’m up and moving all the time,” says Hubbard. “I get to the various departments and see lots of people. We help with registration, get authorization for early visitors, log people coming and going, and deliver flowers and other items to the patients. But I especially like helping the patients and visitors feel comfortable.”
Hubbard’s fellow volunteers look forward to their shifts together. Comments include:
- If the afternoon volunteers are running late, he stays at the desk longer to ensure things progress as smoothly as possible.
- He is always the first to offer to fill in if there is a shift that isn’t covered.
- Tom is a can-do, proactive person who treats patients like his own family members.
- He is a great teacher, willing to share his knowledge.
- Tom is a great partner. Beyond the superb effort, his humor makes the shift seem too short.
Hubbard chuckles at the comment about his sense of humor and casually describes the camaraderie he has with his fellow volunteers.
“I’m very copasetic with the people I work with. We have a lot of fun,” he says. “I guess I have to admit, even though I’m 83 years old, I have a case of arrested adolescence.”
With his signature humility, Hubbard reflects on what this recognition means.
“I feel very proud, but I have to say that the notoriety makes me uncomfortable,” he says. “I just enjoy working with the patients, visitors and the staff. I don’t have any family here in the area – they’re all out of state, so I consider the folks I work with as part of my family. It’s very rewarding on so many levels.”
Micki Freshour – East Campus 2020 Volunteer of the Year
“I’m a natural caregiver and I’m very compassionate,” Freshour states. “I naturally take people under my wing, like a mother figure. That’s why I needed to be in a volunteer job where I could work one-on-one with patients. The Breast Care Center was a perfect fit. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Like Hubbard, Freshour is a long-time volunteer. Prior to her work at YRMC, she spent 14 years volunteering at a hospital in California and 11 years at a hospice in Arizona. She has been with the YRMC Breast Care Center since January, 2014 and has given more than 1,500 hours.
“My job is to bring the patients back, show them the dressing area and keep them company while they’re waiting,” Freshour explains. “When they’re finished with their procedure, I cut their wrist band off and walk them out. Then I clean and sanitize everything and prepare the room for the next patient.”
“But really, the main thing I do is help our patients feel comfortable. It can be stressful for our patients, particularly those who are having biopsies. I explain what they can expect and try to comfort them.”
The added companionship and reassurance that Freshour offers helps to make the Breast Care Center patient experience brighter and easier. Her fellow volunteers and staff are grateful for the role she plays during her volunteer shifts. Comments include:
- Micki is very comforting to our patients.
- Micki goes above and beyond.
- She will not leave until all the patients have left, even though it is after her scheduled time frame.
- She is joyful and happy to help.
- Micki keeps things flowing smoothly. We love having her, she makes our days easier.
- She is a hard worker, she is compassionate, a pleasure to work with and a valued member of our team.
Freshour was blindsided by the award.
“Nancy called me and asked me to come to the West Campus because they needed some photos taken. It seemed odd, but I agreed,” Freshour recalls. “I met her in the lobby with two other volunteers, then we went into a conference room. Oh my goodness, there were whistles, balloons, yelling and screaming. And I couldn’t figure out why! When they introduced Tom Hubbard as the West Campus Volunteer of the Year, I thought, ‘Well, that is so nice. It’s like something you always dream of!’ But it still didn’t register why I was there.”
“Then when they said my name, I just cried, I was so humbled. It’s so special, I can’t put it into words. I couldn’t wait to get my pin on my badge. I’m so proud of it!”
“When people say that it’s ‘just’ volunteering, I immediately disagree,” Freshour continues. “The staff and patients count on me. I always say that I do get paid, but the payment I get is not monetary – It’s emotional. And that’s better than gold.”
Carol Shepherd – Sandy Zinn Martin 2020 Award Winner
“Carol embodies the spirit of this award. Like Sandy Zinn Martin, the former volunteer for whom this award was named, Carol is quick to extend support and assistance to other volunteers,” says Thomes. “Whether it’s taking meals over after a volunteer has had a procedure, offering to take in a volunteer’s dog after a volunteer injury, picking up volunteers for social gatherings, or regular calls to check in, she is always ready with a meaningful and timely offer.”
Shepherd’s response to this generous description? “Well, I just do these things – it’s in my nature!”
“It’s my way of giving back,” she continues. “I have so many things to be grateful for, both in my working career and my personal life. I’ve always worked with the public, so this is a natural thing for me. Volunteering is just a part of me. I love helping people, showing compassion, and offering a gentle word or gentle touch to our patients and visitors. I get more out of it than they do.”
Shepherd has been volunteering at YRMC for three years, working in the Cath Lab, Registration, and as an Escort at the Front Desk.
“You get to know the people you work with. They become family,” Shepherd says. “If I don’t see someone for a couple of weeks, I get concerned and will check in or ask about them. We’re a source of emotional support for each other when we have personal issues.”
In true form, Shepherd initiated ‘Thursday Night Hamburger Nights’ with her fellow volunteers. On Thursday evenings, they’d meet for a burger and socializing, which led to taking turns hosting everyone in their homes, not to mention lasting friendships.
“Volunteering is a great way to make new friends, and they’re always there for you,” she continues. “In fact, my husband said yesterday, ‘Two days a week, you’re up at 7 AM and out the door with a smile on your face!’ Well, those are the days I volunteer at YRMC.”
There are even more YRMC friendships on the horizon for Shepherd. She explains:
“A few days ago, a fellow volunteer handed me a nice card congratulating me on the Sandy Zinn Martin award. She said that she had gotten the same award in a previous year and said with a smile, ‘Welcome to our Club!’”
“So now I’m determined to track down all the other recipients so that we can all celebrate together!”