In the early days they were referred to as “Pink Ladies.”
In 1979, when the Walker Baptist Medical Center Auxiliary Volunteer Services program was formed, it was composed of only a handful of members, all female. It has since grown to over fifty active members, including men and women.
“We do fundraisers to put money back into the hospital,” says President-Elect Marty Staggs. “That money is used for things like Bibles, scholarships for nurses, whatever is needed. They have plans to buy some much needed transport supplies, including wheelchairs.”
Marty is retired from her position as a secretary/bookkeeper at Oakman Elementary School, and currently works in the gift shop. She loves it for the hustle and bustle, and because so many visitors filter through there, making it the hub of the hospital. “I wanted to work in surgery waiting. That was my dream job,” Marty says. “Now I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else than here.”
“I like people,” Marty continues, with a pleasant smile. “I see people come and go here. I worked twenty-two years in the office at Oakman, and I’ve even been blessed to reacquaint myself with some of the students. I’m always flagging somebody down in the hall that I know.”
Diane Fender, a former president of the auxiliary, has worked in surgery waiting for seventeen years. She already had some background in the medical field, having worked at Southern Orthopedic for eleven years. “I’ve seen some sad things,” she says quietly. “But I love it here. I love being able to offer comfort to families, or to just lend an ear.”
If your child has ever been comforted by a teddy bear before having surgery, you can thank Diane Fender for starting that program. “I knew they needed something, so I came up with the idea of giving them a teddy bear, and we invited each child to name it. We’ve seen children being wheeled out to have surgery, still holding on to their new teddy bear.”
Though the teddy bear program is no longer active, the volunteers have found other ways to be helpful and show they care. “Every newborn baby here gets a New Testament Bible,” says Marty.
She relates one heart-warming experience that she says is definitely her most memorable. “There was one time when we had delivered a Bible to a newborn. The mom and dad were there in the room, and the dad just came over, and hugged me, and he said ‘thank you’.”
Marty says the gesture of giving the Bibles has made a difference. “It has broken down barriers, even with people who don’t speak English. Sometimes they are reluctant to accept it, until they understand it doesn’t cost them anything.”
There are other ways Volunteer Services has helped: adopting a patient by doing little things for them, such as putting a Christmas tree in their room, providing jackets and scarves for the Walker Geriatric Unit, capes for the Breast Center, and helping to find clothes for children who have been removed from their families.
Currently there are approximately 54 active volunteers, though that number tends to fluctuate every year. “We’re always looking for a few good men and women,” Marty says.
“Just volunteer,” Diane says. “They really depend on us.” 78
For more information on being a volunteer, contact Anna Harbison, Coordinator of Volunteer Services at 205-387-4025.