What’s the best job in the world? Working with volunteers, of course! Just ask Nancy Thomes, the Director of Volunteer Services at Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC).

“I am so fortunate to be where I am because I work with top-notch people every day,” says Thomes. “It takes a giving heart to be a volunteer, and I’m surrounded by hundreds of volunteers with very generous hearts.”

The volunteers are an integral part of the hospital, enhancing the patient experience and providing much needed support to YRMC staff. While the pandemic restricted their involvement over the past 2 years, YRMC is currently working to reopen additional service areas. Along the way, volunteers build friendships and enjoy the sense of purpose that volunteering provides.

Each year, YRMC Volunteer Services recognizes three volunteers whose service to the hospital, its patients, and the community embodies the Mission and Vision of Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center. Each recipient is recognized for the unique ways in which they make YRMC a better place.

YRMC East Volunteer of the Year, Maggie Goltra

“Nancy had asked if I could attend a meeting at the West Campus, and of course, if I can help in any way, I will be there,” recalls Goltra. “When we walked into the room, I recognized some of the staff, but still couldn’t figure out what I was doing there. When Nancy told me that I was Volunteer of the Year – East Campus, I was completely shocked – that never entered my mind! What an honor!”

Goltra started volunteering at YRMC in 2007. Over the years, she has worked in Admitting, Care Management, and the Family Birthing Center, and now works at the East Campus Front Lobby. Volunteer Services Manager, Victoria Spears says that Goltra is one of those kinds of people that you just love being around.

As the first point of contact when you walk through the hospital doors, the Front Desk volunteers have an important role. They can often set the tone for the patient or visitor’s experience, offering information and assurance. Duties include helping patients check in at the kiosk, helping visitors sign in, escorting patients and visitors throughout the hospital, delivering items, and regularly sanitizing the area.

“Maggie does all of this with a big smile and gracious attitude,” notes Spears. “Everyone who is around Maggie cannot help but smile. She is a joy to be around!”

Goltra gives credit to her fellow volunteers as well.

“It’s nice to work with a group of people who are there because they want to be,” she says. “I work with Debbie, Wayne, and Gus, who are always there with a friendly hello and a readiness to help all of the patients and visitors who come in. These are the type of volunteers I would like to have welcome me to the hospital.”

With more than 1,850 volunteer hours under her belt, Goltra is a true asset to YRMC. Yet she describes her role in simple terms: to be helpful, even if in a small way.

“The best part about volunteering at YRMC is just being able to help make our patients’ time at the hospital a bit easier, in our small way,” she explains. “It’s important to be able to help where you can, especially if it is making someone’s day easier or less stressful.”

YRMC West Volunteer of the Year, Mary Kerper

­­­Mary Kerper worked for 42 years for an international mechanical parts distributor, overseeing operations, training, auditing, and continuous improvement for more than 400 locations. Retirement brought her and her husband to Prescott in 2019. Their desire was to continue to contribute to their new community.

“I have had chores, responsibilities, and jobs since elementary school,” says Kerper. “I was taught that work is important, and contribution is necessary to help others, as well as yourself. Volunteering helps me to maintain my sense of self while I provide support to others.”

Nancy Thomes recognizes Kerper’s strong work ethic as she looks back on the past few years.

“Mary is one of the volunteers who didn’t let COVID stop her from volunteering,” recalls Thomes. “She stayed active until we suspended all volunteers and returned immediately when we could open up the Information Desk – our only service area for a while. She took on an extra shift and was a ‘rock’ throughout that very uncertain time.”

Staff and fellow volunteers agree. When asked why she is a stand-out volunteer, responses include:

  • Mary is so vigilant – always alert to who is coming through the doors.
  • She consistently subs for her fellow volunteers when she is available.
  • One of Mary’s responsibilities is training new volunteers. They consistently remark how thorough she is with her training.
  • She is helpful, compassionate, and caring, along with a friendly smile!
  • The Front Desk is a challenging area of service, and she has remained calm throughout.
  • Mary is a problem solver extraordinaire!

“It is so amazing to come to a place of healing and do what I can to contribute to the patients, visitors, staff, and my fellow volunteers,” says Kerper.

Yet on a larger scale, she reflects on the importance of her award.

“This award reinforces the importance of the role of volunteers. It really shows the value that YRMC leadership places on the contributions the volunteers make. I love being part of this team. Leadership here at YRMC clearly includes volunteers as valuable members of their team.”

“The new relationship between Dignity Health and YRMC has brought change, and will no doubt bring more change. But the community will benefit greatly,” she continues. “What I feel will not change is the commitment our leadership has to the hospital and to our community. The volunteers will always be here to help.”

The Sandy Zinn Martin Award, Norma Bauer

When describing Norma Bauer and her dedication to YRMC patients, staff, visitors, and fellow volunteers, Nancy Thomes is reminded of a television show.

“There is a show called New Amsterdam. The setting is in a hospital, and the Medical Director is often seen moving about the hospital asking, ‘How can I help?’ The writers may not know this, but they must have fashioned that character after Norma Bauer.”

Thomes continues, “She has been SUPER flexible, changing service areas often, and always willing to go where needed. When I ask for favors of volunteers, I often begin with a reminder that ‘No’ is an acceptable answer. That is a word that Norma rarely uses.”

The award is named after a former volunteer, Sandy Zinn Martin, whose spirit lives on in the selfless service that Bauer demonstrates. It’s often the little things that show the true character of a person – the things that go unnoticed by most people. Thomes shares a brief but telling story.

“A staff member sent me an e-mail after observing Norma assisting a patient who was having trouble getting something from a vending machine. Norma was a patient coach, gentle and kind.”

“This award is a humbling honor; there are so many dedicated volunteers,” says Bauer. “I believe it indicates that staff and other volunteers have considered my presence and efforts in a positive light and kindly took the time to ‘say so.’”

“Nearly every shift includes at least one interaction that stands out from the rest,” Bauer reflects. “What makes the greatest impact on me usually comes from a patient who expresses apprehension approaching a procedure. A brief suggestion to expect the staff to be caring and understanding can often serve to lessen the patient’s anxiety.”

Bauer has been called a true role model in the Volunteer Services program, with some affectionately referring to her ‘old-world mannerisms.’ According to staff and fellow volunteers, Bauer’s gracious, polite, and professional approach informs everything she does.

Comments include, “It was a privilege to be tutored and to subsequently work with Norma,” and, “She deserves this recognition.”

When she was invited to consider volunteering at YRMC, Bauer didn’t hesitate. She was impressed with the quality of care given to her friends and family.

“Volunteering at YRMC is an opportunity to support and give back to an organization that benefits our community,” she explains. “It gives me a sense of purpose and provides interests beyond myself. YRMC values its volunteers and demonstrates their appreciation of them.”

“I sincerely enjoy volunteering at YRMC. It has become an enriching part of my life.”

To learn more about becoming a volunteer at Yavapai Regional Medical Center, visit DignityHealth.org/YRMC. Or you can call Volunteer Services in Prescott at (928) 771-5678, or in Prescott Valley at (928) 442-8683.