Hospital seeks more volunteers

DOWAGIAC — A local hospital is looking for more volunteers to donate their time in a variety of roles.

The Borgess-Lee Volunteers are seeking more people to volunteer in several areas of the hospital and to help support Ascension Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital’s mission of improving the health status in the community.

Beth Cripe, the volunteer liaison, said the hospital’s volunteer numbers are down this year.

Currently, volunteers are needed to work in the gift shop, as registration greeters, to do clerical work, to complete departmental work as needed, to sew projects and to serve as patient and family visitors.

Terri Moore, who has been president of the Borgess-Lee Volunteers for more than four years, said a volunteer’s job is to be welcoming and accommodating to those in the community and people who come to the hospital for a variety of reasons.

Annually, a volunteer donates about 75 hours of their time, Moore said. However, the hospital is flexible and works with people’s schedules.

“That can be spread out,” she said. “Some of our ladies do a couple hours each week. Some come and do all day at the bake sale. We are real flexible with the schedule.”

Moore said one volunteer, who helps serve coffee to those in the waiting room, comes in on Tuesdays and stays all day, while other volunteers do two hours a week in the gift shop.

All of the money raised from the gift shop and through two semi-annual Homemade, Handmade and Heartfelt Sales is donated back to the hospital.

The Borgess-Lee Volunteers donate gifts to the hospital every year and also give out scholarships.

Last year, Borgess-Lee Volunteers used the money they raised to gift the hospital with two Wrist Pulse Oximeter’s valued at $2,000.

This year, Borgess-Lee Volunteers selected three scholarship winners. Each recipient received a $650 scholarship to pursue an educational opportunity in the medical field.

While Moore said giving back to the hospital through donations is an aspect of the Borgess-Lee Volunteer’s roles, they also help visitors feel comfortable in the hospital.

“We can create a welcoming space and a feeling of comfort in the health services,” Moore said. Recently, Moore said the hospital was also donated a large amount of cloth. The volunteers have come up with a system of making the cloth into walker bags for people who are newly injured or are no longer mobile. Moore said when people use a walker, it may be difficult for them to carry anything with their hands. Moore wants to make walker bags and donate them to patients for free. She is looking for groups to help sew them.

“We have enough to make a couple hundred,” Moore said. “With the small group we have, it would take a long time to produce that many. We are kind of hoping to reach out to a church sewing or quilting group or the high school’s home-economics classes or 4-H groups. We just want anybody who wants to sew for a good project.”

Moore said her favorite part of volunteering is meeting people.

“Some people just enjoy getting out of the house. They would be housebound otherwise,” Moore said. “Some like the feeling they are doing something for the community. I like that too. I really like getting to meet the people that I am doing things for.”

Area high schools also have a program where they bring in students to work in different departments throughout the whole hospital, Moore said. Through her work in the gift shop, she can see how much students grow and gain an interest in what is happening at the hospital. Moore would like to see volunteers experience this same type of growth.

Ann Biek, of Dowagiac, has been a volunteer at the hospital for more than 15 years and spends most of her time volunteering in the gift shop.

“I like helping people find something special for a patient at the hospital,” Biek said.

Biek said most of the current volunteers’ range in age from their early 60s to late 90s.

“We need people that would be interested at any age,” Biek said.

“We are looking for new blood,” Moore said. “If somebody is ambitious, they can come on board and be involved as much or as little as they want.”


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