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Volunteering: Good for the Heart and Soul

Mar 23, 2022

By Cheryl Brock, Director of Volunteer Services

April is Volunteer Appreciation Month and William Newton Hospital is hosting a lovely appreciation luncheon banquet for our volunteers and active auxiliary members on April 21. We are so fortunate to have 47 in-house volunteers and 117 auxiliary members. They are the heart of our organization and were the first major contributors to our recent surgery center expansion. Almost six years ago they pledged $250,000 to William Newton Hospital for one of two surgery waiting rooms, and are paying it off ahead of schedule.

As Director of Volunteer Services, many people have asked me over the years how I get people to show up to work when they aren’t even getting paid. My response – it’s really not a problem. We have dedicated members in Winfield and surrounding areas that travel to volunteer in our hospital, not for the money obviously, but to be of service and give back to their community. Our volunteers value the hospital’s contribution to the community in providing a wide array of services, enabling them and so many others to receive care close to home, instead of traveling to Wichita. But don’t just take my word for it. Read what some of our very own volunteers have to say about why they serve:

Scott Schoon – “After my retirement from the Winfield Recreation Commission, I wanted to give back to the community that has been so good to me and my family over the years. I thought the best way to give back would be to volunteer for a worthwhile cause and that is why I chose the hospital auxiliary. It's been a joy to work with Cheryl and all of the volunteers at the hospital. I love my job at the snack bar/gift shop and enjoy visiting with hospital staff and visitors. We are fortunate to have such a high-quality hospital, and I'm glad to be a small part of its success.

Georgia Larson - “(1) I made my living in this town and felt a need to give back to the community. (2) I lost my husband and needed a reason to get up in the morning, a purpose to be on this Earth. (3) We are so blessed to have the health complex we have in Winfield! Many small towns have lost their healthcare facilities. (4) After retiring, and having worked with the public, I realized how much I missed seeing people from the community! (5) After volunteering at WNH, I realized how blessed I am to be around so many giving and loving individuals. I am the lucky one! Everyone I work with is here because they want to be. (5) The bottom line is, volunteering at WNH keeps me feeling better physically as well as mentally because I am active and engaged with others.

John Bredehoft – “In my career as a pharmacist I always had community contact, so volunteering at William Newton Hospital allows me to greet people and tell them ‘Hello; Have a Great Day; Thank you’ and so forth and so on. It’s a way I can continue to serve.”

Jo Lynne Brothers – “I decided to start volunteering a couple of years after retiring. I was becoming a hermit. Even though I have lived in this area for over 20 years, I didn’t know very many people because I always traveled with my job. I volunteer to be around people, help people, meet people, and be out of my husband’s hair a bit every week. I have enjoyed every minute of it.”

Dorothy Sponsel – “I was a newcomer to town, and there is no better place to meet people than through a hospital auxiliary. I served in the auxiliary in Ulysses where we moved here from, and I just knew that this would be the perfect spot for me to serve the community and meet people.”

Volunteering is good for the heart and soul. Studies have shown active volunteers experience less stress and have the motivation to keep moving, therefore slowing down physical decline. They glean an overall satisfaction from helping others, which feels good and gives self-worth and value to the soul. This in turn lowers the rate of depression and gives additional purpose in life. Socially, volunteers can meet other people with similar interests and develop friendships that go beyond hours at the hospital. We try to have a lot of fun!

Last year our volunteers gave over 11,000 hours in service. They help at the information desk which includes greeting people, helping patients check-in at the kiosk, delivering mail and flowers, and helping registration and other departments with various tasks.

The volunteers also serve in our surgery waiting room. This job entails keeping loved ones informed of family members having surgery, making visitors comfortable in the surgery waiting area, providing a listening ear to those who would like to visit, and tracking clients helped. In the snack bar/gift shop, tasks include grilling breakfast and lunch menu items, operating the cash register, and keeping customers happy with fountain drinks and snacks. It also includes selling a beautiful selection of gifts, clothes, jewelry, stuffed animals, and homemade doll clothes. Many community members come in just to shop our wonderful selection. The auxiliary sewing committee and other members make many items that can be purchased from our display case. Tea towels, pillows, coasters, and baby blankets are popular items. The snack bar/gift shop is open Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to Noon.

Volunteers also greet patients and help them check-in at the Physicians Pavilion, which houses many physicians’ practices in town. They also work the bi-weekly pain clinic transporting patients from the lobby to surgery.

The newest service operated by volunteers is Willy’s Care Cab. Drivers cruise the parking lot in search of patients and guests looking for a ride to appointments anywhere around the hospital campus. This service is essential to those who cannot make that long walk to the hospital – especially in bad weather. Some days are slow and some days are super busy, but if you have the opportunity to make a difference in the life of even one person – it’s worth it.

William Newton Hospital values our volunteers and I do too! I help each volunteer find a place to serve that works with their schedule. Should they miss a shift for any reason – there is no pressure. Family and travel are a big part of retirement and life, and we at WNH don’t want our volunteers to miss out on anything. We go the extra mile to make sure they enjoy the best of life and their service. It’s all about taking care of the heart and soul.

Our upcoming appreciation banquet will honor our volunteers with service award pins based on hours, recognize Volunteer of the Year award recipient Ed and Jeannine Foster, give out door prizes, and enjoy some delicious food.

We are seeking more volunteers to join our team (a.k.a. The Blue Crew) and have several positions open. If you would like more information or are interested in joining our team, please call me at 620-222-6230 or email to request an application.

Editorial Notes: A version of this feature was originally published in the "Weekend Check-Up," a regular health column in the Cowley CourierTraveler penned by employees and friends of William Newton Hospital.

Posted in Auxiliary , Weekend Check-Up Column on Mar 23, 2022