Every Tuesday night, Edith Brookover sets the alarm clock for 5:30 a.m. before she goes to bed. The 90-year-old wants to be sure to be up and all ready to go when her ride gets there at 8 o’clock Wednesday morning to take her to St. Charles Mercy Hospital, where she is a volunteer.
Edith has been volunteering at St. Charles since 1971. Before that, she donated her time at hospitals in Norwalk and in Michigan.
It’s something she does to help others and to help herself too, she said.
“You need an incentive to get up and get going, I think,” the Oregon woman said. “Volunteering is my incentive.
“It’s great to feel like you’re helping someone – even just one person,” she said.
Macular degeneration has affected her eyesight, but Edith is still able to help put informational packets together, stuff envelopes and perform other clerical tasks.
Though she’ll turn 91 Nov. 14, Edith isn’t the hospitals oldest volunteer. Art Beck, of East Toledo, is 96 and has also been donating his time at the hospital for some three decades. He comes two days a week to help in central patient transport – moving patients, equipment and anything that needs to get from point A to point B in the hospital.
Later this month, the hospital will recognize the many dedicated men and women who volunteer there.
“We have a lot of dedication here,” said Diane Honsberger, volunteer director. “Currently we have about 207 adults who volunteer their time at St. Charles. And I have 13 volunteers now who have been here 30 years or more.”
But there’s always room for more, she said. The hospital welcomes adult volunteers of any age. Teens are welcome to volunteer in a summer program.
“Volunteers help out in the gift shop, information desk, surgery waiting room, ER, admitting, patient transport – we have them all over,” Honsberger said.
“Without them, we’d be able to function, but probably not nearly as well,” she said. “Volunteers offer the extra TLC that the staff may not have the time to. They have the time to greet, smile and even walk visitors and patients to where they’re going.
“There’s actually a dollar value that Washington puts on a volunteer,” she added.
According to Honsberger’s calculations for 2006, volunteers donated 3,000 hours of their time in the hospital gift shop alone, which had a value of $67,000, if benefits would be added.
In that same year, volunteers logged 11,000 hours in central patient transport, with a value of $200,000.
While the hospital, its patients and visitors benefit from the services of volunteers, those who offer their time often say they get as much or more from the experience as they give, Honsberger said.
“When you can lift someone else up, or make someone smile or feel better, then you really feel like you’ve made a difference and it gets your mind off your own problems,” she said.
Volunteering also offers a social connection.
“People, once they retire, often lose that connection,” Honsberger said. “We have a lot of retirees – they really commit. They make volunteering their second careers.”
Among those who will be honored at St. Charles this month are:
Five years of service - Liz Cashen, Pat Miller, Richard Molnar, Sally Slovak and Irene Szmania,
10 Years - Walt Biegala, Ron Brennan, Pam Caldwell, Bev Leonhardt, Richard Manzeck and Pat Roper.
15 Years - Jean DeWitt, Jan Ford, Sue Hansen, Cliff King, Nancy Miller and Betty Tresso.
20 Years - Marian Cavese, Paul Cruetz and Jeanne Newis.
25 Years - Mike Dandar.
30 Years - Art Beck and Zora Ozanski.
35 Years - Tom Lorenz and Lenny Newis
Those who have already been honored for 30 or more years of service and their starting dates include Helen Michael (1952); Betty Gladieux (1956); Marge Lorenz (1964); Edith Brookover (1971); Lenny Newis (1973); Tom Lorenz (1973); Rex Powers (1974); Ellen Russell (1974); Billie Brown (1975); Bud Lagger (1975); Ruth Reeder (1975); Joan Terry (1977).
Those who are interested in volunteering are invited to call or stop in and speak with Honsberger, she said. “We ask for a commitment of four to five hours once a week,” she said, adding that those who volunteer are treated to lunch.
For more information, call 419-696-7424.
Every Tuesday night, Edith Brookover sets her alarm for 5:30 a.m. so she can be ready to go Wednesday morning when her ride takes her to St. Charles Mercy Hospital, where she has been volunteering since 1971.