April 19, 2011

Helping hands

Organizations celebrate National Volunteer Week

Non-profit organizations depend on volunteers on a daily basis.

Often the success of the organization’s mission is due to the those people who offer their help for free.

 “They are needed every day, every hour, every minute of the day,” said Jan Newton, Logansport Memorial Hospital volunteer coordinator and gift shop manager. “There is always something for volunteers do during the day.”

Points of Light Institute and HandsOn Network are the sponsors of National Volunteer Week 2011, which wrapped up Saturday.

National Volunteer Week was established in 1974, according to HandsOn Network and has grown each year. It has drawn the support and endorsement of all subsequent U.S. presidents as well as governors and mayors.

“National Volunteer Week is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities,” the HandsOn Network Web site says.

At Logansport Memorial Hospital, a number of people volunteer in a number of different areas.

Newton said 66 volunteers help with patient care, while 85 volunteers help the Mary Dykeman Guild. Meals on Wheels has 10 while two chaplains volunteer time. In the summer, students

increase the number for patient-care volunteers.

Volunteers spent 13,191 hours working with patients in 2010. In addition, the chaplains accounted for 175 hours, Meals on Wheels totaled 1,000 and Mary Dykeman Guild gave 4,410 hours.

“That’s a $400,000 to $500,000 savings to the hospital in wages,” said Newton. “Not only that, they do things that would take people away from extreme patient care.”

Volunteers help at the concierge desk, directing people in the right direction or by pushing a patient in a wheelchair to a lab. They even take up the flowers and cards to patients staying in the hospital. Others help in the finance and records areas.

In addition to running the gift shop, Mary Dykeman Guild volunteers decorate the gift shop. Guild members assist with the holly bazaar sale in the winter and garden party in the spring.

Funds raised by those events are used to buy equipment for the hospital, patient care notes and informational diabetes booklets.

Sandy Jacks, president of the volunteer auxiliary, or patient care, celebrated her 20th year as a volunteer just this month.

Jacks started volunteering after she retired from Chase Center and became bored.

“I enjoy helping people,” she said.

Jacks explained a lot of people come into the hospital sad. If she can make them have a smile on their face when they leave, she feels she has done her job.

She volunteers seven to eight times a month. Her husband, Mick, also volunteers at the hospital three to four times a month.

Hope Hospice has 25 volunteers, which it depends on for a number of things.

Volunteer coordinator Wendy Reinartz said volunteers do anything from reading a favorite bookor writing letters for a patient, giving family members or a caregiver a break, or running errands for the patient or family.

They are also there to just listen and be a friend.

Once a month, volunteers write thinking-of-you cards to patients and also serve as extra hands during fundraisers.

The need for volunteers depends on the patient.

“It can be a daily thing,” said Reinartz. “it depends on when we have patients and what their needs are. Sometimes they want a volunteer once a week.”

To volunteer with Hope Hospice, Reinartz said the organizations asks that people be grief free for one year.

A number of volunteers help United Way of Cass County with different activities.

Executive director Joyce Mayhill said the annual fundraising campaign uses anywhere from 200 to 300 volunteers each year, while Live United Day draws approximately 6,000 volunteers.

In addition, the organization has volunteers for the board of directors and community investment committee.

Volunteers also help with Reading Railroad, the backpack program, Cass County Resource Network and Neighborhood Watch.

“All these programs are utilizing volunteers,” she said. “With only three staff members here for United Way and Reading Railroad, we couldn’t do it without volunteers.”

Mayhill said United Way also utilizes volunteers in the office to help with daily functions, as well as for planning and development in addition to the campaign and Live United Day.

All three organizations feel volunteering is important.

“It’s extremely important because it’s a way of helping your community, a way to help the hospital and the patients in the hospital,” Newton said. “We honestly couldn’t get along without our volunteers here.”

Reinartz said it’s important for people to consider volunteering because it is a life changing event.

“To be able to know you can help and lend an ear,” she said. “It’s a huge relief for families to know they have someone coming in to talk to.”

She thinks highly of the volunteers at Hope Hospice.

“I think they are fabulous,” she said. “It takes a special individual to be dedicated and to be a hospice volunteer.”

Mayhill referred to United Way’s volunteers as the organization’s best ambassadors.

“Many residents are struggling to meet their basic needs and fortunately human-service providers are giving help and hope to those in need,” she said. “By extending our hands through volunteer programs, we can increase the ability for agencies to do their work and build a stronger community.”

• Denise Massie is a staff writer at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5151 or

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