They don’t do it for the free parking, and they don’t do it for the meal voucher. They don’t do it for the chance to rock that fashionable blue apron. They do it for the people.
Volunteers at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, whether at Batson, Wiser or Conerly, give of their time to touch lives and make a difference in a patient’s day.
Volunteers may serve as patient navigators, greeting new patients in their rooms. They might don the hat of courier and deliver mail or flowers to a patient’s room. Whether volunteers serve as a liaison to a patient’s family, man a desk or host bingo night, they are appreciated.
Three volunteers were recognized at the reception honoring UMMC’s Volunteers of the Year, held in the volunteer services office on Friday, Nov. 13. From the Jackson campus were Jeanette Winstead and Sarah Barrow. Florine Lewis is Volunteer of the Year for UMMC Holmes County in Lexington.
Jeanette Winstead lives with her husband, Jack, near the Ross Barnett Reservoir and has been volunteering for two years in the PICU waiting room. She retired from working 20 years as administrative assistant to the late Honorable Charles Clark, who served as a federal judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
“I was retired for some time, and I just wanted to do something that I thought made a difference,” said Winstead. She sees volunteering as “an opportunity to love on people when they are in some of the worst situations.”
Winstead frequently plays the role of parent liaison, letting the parents know when visitors arrive in the waiting room while they are in the unit with their children. “It is heartbreaking at times, but you feel like you might do a little good for someone.”
Winstead and her husband also volunteer for Friends of Mississippi Veterans, visiting nursing homes for veterans in Mississippi.
Sarah Barrow, from Madison, is a sophomore at Mississippi College who heard about the volunteer program through a friend. “Service is one of my passions, so I felt volunteering would be a great outlet for me to serve others.”
Barrow plans to pursue a nursing career in the future and felt the hospital environment would be ideal to gain experience. She volunteers in several departments, including greeting visitors to the emergency department, answering the phone in pharmacy administration, assisting with administrative duties in human resources and visiting patients in the Within Reach program.
Barrow said that volunteering has taught her the importance of collaboration within the hospital network and how to better communicate and interact with people.
“I have had the opportunity to create relationships with the employees who I have volunteered for, as well as the other volunteers I have served with,” said Barrow. “The employees radiate a positive and dedicated spirit, which has encouraged me and, I am sure, all those around them.
“I am thankful for the opportunity to serve as a volunteer, for the encouragement I have received from the Volunteer Services staff, and for the opportunity to be in such a learning environment.”
Florine Lewis is a retired school teacher who has been volunteering at UMMC Holmes County since 2003, after her husband of 37 years passed away.
She is a mother of six children and a grandmother of eleven who also volunteers at a local nursing center, with outreach programs in her community and at her church, and she cares for her 94-year-old mother.
A self-described people person, Lewis says she enjoys making people happy. “I like talking to them and motivating them, making them feel better. It lifts their spirits.”
Patti Lowe is a social worker and the volunteer coordinator at UMMC Holmes County.
“We appreciate all of our volunteers,” said Lowe. “They add the personal touch to the hospital here. We depend on them greatly and appreciate all the hard work they do for our patients and the community.” Jane Ellen Wolf, director of volunteer services at UMMC, said that 2015 has been a record year for volunteers. “We recorded more volunteer hours in July 2015 than have ever been recorded, and we have tripled our recruiting efforts in colleges and universities.”