Volunteering — Good for the soul

When you take the time to reach out and help others, it can be good for your soul. Volunteering has always been a valuable way to contribute to the greater good and lift your own spirits in the process.

In fact, volunteers have played an active role at Scott & White since 1967 when the volunteer program first began with only 34 members. Today that number has expanded to nearly 200 volunteers coming from all walks of life, from college students to retirees.

Nancy Zimmerman is the manager of volunteer services and is passionate about improving the patient experience. “Everybody no matter where we are in life can contribute to make somebody else’s day better and brighter,” says Zimmerman.

Becoming Part of the Team

For those interested in becoming a volunteer, the process begins with an interview with Zimmerman, who will help match you to different volunteer opportunities, according to your schedule, interests, talents and the needs of the hospital.

“I visit with our volunteers and find out which opportunity will work best for them,” says Zimmerman. “We try to place them in an area where everyone can be happy.”

She’ll ask you, “Tell me about yourself and what you love to do,” or “What do you feel you are good at?” in order to get to know you in the initial interview.

From there, you will go through orientation, take a hospital tour, complete a background check, and receive your badge and uniform top. Many volunteer opportunities require just a four hour per week minimum commitment. However, several volunteers go above and beyond. Some volunteers commit to one semester, and one particular volunteer has been helping for over 32 years.

If you are unable to commit to a regular volunteer schedule, there are opportunities to help with specific projects outside of the hospital. For example, a number of church groups and children have made blankets for chemotherapy patients. This is a simple way to brighten a patient’s day when he or she may be going through a hard time. The volunteers attached a personal note and picked out the fabric. They delivered the blankets and were able to contribute in a meaningful way. These groups have also gone on to collect hats, socks and other supplies for the patients.

“It’s a phenomenal ride,” says Zimmerman. “Every day is a different day, and I am truly blessed to be able to work with the people I work with. They encourage me every day to be the best person I can be.”

Little Things but Big Results

Volunteers help in many areas throughout the hospital including:

  • Nursing
  • Mammography
  • Emergency Department
  • Information Desks
  • ICU Waiting Rooms
  • Radiology
  • Vasicek Cancer Treatment Center
  • Sunshine Gift Shop
  • Project-based Initiatives

As a volunteer, you may escort a woman after a mammogram, or you may be helping direct people at the information desk. You could work in the volunteer-run gift shop, or comfort a patient who comes to an appointment alone.

“It may seem like a little thing, but I feel we can be little rays of hope that are going to impact someone else’s day,” says Zimmerman. Volunteers also do “comfort checks” and offer cold water or reading material and ask if a patient needs anything. They’re able to take the time to connect with patients and improve their stay.

“We add the extra touches that make that experience meaningful,” says Zimmerman.

Benefits of Volunteering

If you’re stuck in a rut, you may consider volunteering. It’s a great way to get the focus off of you and take a look at the bigger picture.

“Once you have spent time here and become part of the team, you’re not going to walk out of here the same person,” says Zimmerman.

Some benefits of volunteering include:

  • Making valuable use of time
  • Being a friend to someone in need
  • Spending time talking to someone who comes to the hospital alone
  • Practicing getting out of your shell
  • Helping to decide on a potential career path
  • Meeting new people
  • Learning new skills
  • Hearing valuable stories about life
  • Interacting with people who need a friend
  • Seeing a more personal side of the hospital experience
  • Taking part in social interactions
  • Learning how to communicate on different level
  • Developing patience
  • Cheering up someone who needs it
  • Personal growth

“I often see volunteers get excited about what they’re doing, and they’ll add another morning or afternoon to their schedule,” says Zimmerman. “Being here and offering a smiling face or words of encouragement—that really boosts other people. And when you interact with other people, it will also improve your own mood and outlook.”

Become a part of a rewarding volunteer experience with our organization, today.

About the author

Jill Taylor
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I contribute content and skills as a freelance writer for Baylor Scott & White Health. I enjoy improving our connection with our readers, patients and communities by assisting with a wide range of writing projects.

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Volunteering — Good for the soul