Stone County Medical Center Auxiliary members say their volunteer work is a very rewarding experience and that’s easy to believe when you realize three of the most active have logged thousands of hours in service while wearing the distinctive red smocks.
Arliss Blackledge has logged more than 3,300 hours since around 2004, Ginger Bigalke has worked more than 2,200 hours in two stints with the organization, and Frances Bullard has put in more than 2,000 hours since about 2015.
Auxiliary members have varied duties including greeting -- and comforting, if necessary -- patients and visitors, operating the gift shop, labeling equipment and supplies, and organizing patients on days specialists hold clinics at the hospital.
Ginger, who is 92, says volunteering is very satisfying and gives her purpose.
“It’s a way to give back and get to know people,” she says. “There’s a lot of kindness in this community.”
Arliss appreciates the opportunity to give back to the community and to help people, and describes the work as rewarding, with which Frances readily agrees.
Frances says she would miss it if she was unable to do her weekly commitment.
“It really is a blessing that I’m able to come down here,” she says.
The dozen or so active volunteers typically work one day a week and put in 4-5 hours, though Ginger works two days. She prefers her Thursday shift when she is able to be in the lobby and greet people, but she also helps on a day when supplies get labeled, which is a favorite duty for Frances.
“I love doing that. I just enjoy it,” Frances says, and Ginger teasingly mocks her saying “Oh, aren’t we having fun? … Oh, this is so much fun.” Ginger tells her, “Speak for yourself” but later admits it isn’t so bad. Besides, she has to get out of the house.
As she watches people passing through the lobby -- noting that someone is not wearing a mask or whispering “Oh, there’s a baby!” – it’s clear she enjoys the personal interactions. She might offer a mask to someone, offer to get a cup of coffee, or simply be present with someone who is having to wait.
Arliss says that some people are scared and need reassurance as they wait for testing themselves, or for a loved one.
“You try to just spend time with them and assure them they’re in good hands,” she said.
Read the full story in the Nov. 30 issue.
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