|Ocala, FL -
October 5, 2011|
Published in Ocala Star-Banner on Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at 10:47 p.m.
In 1983, with her five children grown and out of the house, and her husband entering retirement, Helen Ming decided to volunteer a few hours at Munroe Regional Medical Center. Now, Ming often puts in five days a week as chairwoman of the hospital's gift shop.
"One thing led to another, and the next thing I know, I was totally involved," Ming said. "I really enjoy it. I get a lot more out of this job than I can contribute."
Ming, 72, who won the 2009 Hospital Heroes Award out of thousands of volunteers across the state, was among 658 volunteers recognized Saturday during the MRMC Auxiliary's 35th annual general membership meeting and volunteer service celebration.
Jennifer Wood, executive director of Volunteer & Senior Services, said the volunteers are a vital part of the hospital's mission. Also a 2007 Hospital Heroes Award winner, Wood knows what it takes to serve as a volunteer.
"They provide compassionate care to our patients," Wood said. "They extend our staff's hands and hearts. They are definitely partners."
The volunteers serve in four main areas of the hospital: assisting with clerical work, patient and family care, and fundraising. According to information provided by the auxiliary, 1,643 men, women and teenagers donated more than 225,552 hours, valued at nearly $4 million, during the hospital's fiscal year from Oct. 1, 2010, to Sept. 30, 2011. This year's volunteers also received the national President's Volunteer Service Award, acknowledging years of volunteer service.
Wood said she is especially proud of the young people who volunteer and earn community service credits.
"They're also putting their foot in the water about whether they're going to go into the field of medicine," Wood said. "We try to place them where they can work with other people in a community setting. It's also good for them to be learning to work with a kind of multi-generational group. When you're 15 years old working beside a 75-year-old, you learn a lot."
Over 35 years, MRMC volunteers have logged more than 4 million hours. Jackie Mullen, president of the auxiliary, praised them as "motivated people and very dedicated. You can count on them all the time," she said.
On Saturday, special recognition was given to Dorris Odell, who recently celebrated her 100th birthday and has volunteered more than 3,000 hours.
MRMC also inducted 14 volunteers as lifetime members to the wall of honor. The award goes to volunteers who have reached 5,000 hours of service, Wood said.
The hospital is planning to expand its auxiliary services through a renovation of the conference center, to be completed by December. The expansion will add 1,000 square-feet to seat 200 people in the assembly building and an additional 30 seats in a board room equipped with a teleconferencing system.
"The center is very important for us to extend into the community," Wood said. "We're making sure the people have a gathering place in which to come."
More volunteers are needed, and there are volunteers who train the new people, Wood said. For information about volunteering, email Jennifer Wood or call 671-2153.