Photo: Kim Haugen, Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce 2020 Volunteer of the Year (center) with Frank Almendarez, YRMC East Chief Administrative Officer (left) and Chris Graff, Chair of the PV Chamber of Commerce (right).

After working in corporate management in Illinois, Kim Haugen moved to Prescott and became a Medical Transcriptionist. She enjoyed working from home and appreciated the flexibility the job offered. However, Haugen sometimes felt like she was missing out on regular interaction with others. Eleven years ago, after some thoughtful consideration, she decided to volunteer once a week with the PAWS (Pets are Warm Support) pet visitation program at Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) with her then two-year-old Bouvier dog, Dirk.

“Joining PAWS at YRMC was one of most worthwhile things I have ever done,” says Haugen. “There’s nothing like that connection between a dog and a person. He has touched so many lives. People have even recognized him on the street!”

Dirk is now 13 years old and no longer joins Haugen at YRMC.

“When Dirk could no longer walk, I requested a different job on Thursdays,” Haugen continues. “It was important to me to keep seeing the other YRMC volunteers, management and staff who had become my friends.”

She started delivering the mail each Thursday, and over the years has tackled positions as varied as stocking supplies in the Family Birthing Center and Nutrition Department, helping with the ‘Pet Partners’ certification process, working as an Escort and serving at the Information Desk. She has become a well-respected volunteer throughout the hospital, known for her dedication and hard work.

Victoria Spears, YRMC East Volunteer Services Manager, wanted to give Haugen special recognition for all she has done for YRMC. She submitted a nomination to the Prescott Valley Chamber of Commerce for their Volunteer of the Year Award.

“Kim constantly goes above and beyond the call of duty,” states Spears. “When she sees a need, Kim is the first one to offer to fill it. She displays all the qualities of a valuable volunteer, exemplifying the spirit of cooperation. She is respected not only by the other volunteers but by staff as well.”

The Chamber chooses one recipient each year for their Norm Pariseau Volunteer of the Year Award. Pariseau was a longtime member of the Prescott Valley Early Bird Lions and was Board Chairman of the Prescott Valley Chamber. Each year, the winner exemplifies Pariseau’s commitment to the community and generosity of spirit. Haugen won the award.

“Kim not only works hard and does an excellent job, but she truly loves to serve YRMC and our community and this is very apparent when you see her in action,” says Spears.

Haugen was not expecting the honor.

“This certainly surprised the heck out of me!” admits Haugen. “It’s very humbling. There are so many wonderful, deserving volunteers. And I was chosen not only from YRMC, but from all over Prescott Valley. It’s so exciting.”

Haugen continues, “I like to think of this as an honor not only for me, but for YRMC – for the way they have cared for the community, not only during the pandemic, but over the years. I felt that the award was as much for the hospital as for me, and this was the Chamber’s way of thanking the hospital through me.”

“Volunteering makes you feel like you are helping the community. It’s so nice to give back, to feel like you’re making a difference in someone’s life,” says Haugen. “And even behind the scenes – helping make the staff’s job easier. That’s a good feeling. You’re giving the workers a chance for more quality time with their patients.”

Haugen’s beloved dog Dirk was, in many ways, responsible for bringing her to YRMC and launching her years-long commitment to the hospital. It’s nice to know that while Dirk has ‘retired’ from volunteering, he has a little brother named Sebastian. Haugen is happy to report that Sebastian may begin visiting YRMC patients through the PAWS Program in the not too distant future!

To learn more about becoming a volunteer at Yavapai Regional Medical Center, visit yrmc.org. Or, you can call Volunteer Services in Prescott at (928) 771-5678, or in Prescott Valley at (928) 442-8678.