Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Elk Regional Volunteers Make A Difference

Elk Regional Health System is proud to have a dedicated force of more than 200 volunteers, all giving the precious gift of their time to help make Elk Regional the best it can be. Last year alone, Elk Regional’s volunteers contributed 12,000 hours of their time.

Charlotte Floravit, the Health Center’s Director of Public Relations, oversees the Health System’s volunteers. She said the Health System is deeply appreciative of the contributions made by volunteers.

“To say that our volunteers are an important part of the Health System is an understatement,” Mrs. Floravit said. “They do so much for us in so many different areas of the Health System. Without their efforts, Elk Regional would be such a different place. You won’t find a more dedicated and helpful group of people. Our volunteers represent the spirit of Elk Regional. They enrich the lives of everyone they meet, and we are grateful for the generous gifts of their time and talents.”

Volunteering has been part of Peggy Whiteman’s routine for over 30 years. Mrs. Whiteman, who volunteers at Elk Regional Health Center and at the St. Marys Catholic Middle School, is one of Elk Regional’s volunteer patient transporters. When patients or visitors come in to the Health Center and are in need of assistance, Mrs. Whiteman escorts them to the department they need. She volunteers every Thursday for three hours.

“It was my mother-in-law, Winnie Whiteman, who got me started,” Mrs. Whiteman said. “All three of my girls were in school at the time Winnie and I talked about it. She volunteered for the Health Center as a mail messenger, and taught me the job so I could take over when she left. I shadowed her for awhile and just never left.”

Mrs. Whiteman also volunteered at the ReSale Shop before moving into patient transport.

“My favorite part about it is the people,” she said. “The people out at the hospital are just fantastic – both the employees and the people who come in as patients or as visitors. I enjoy being on the move and meeting people, and being a patient transporter allows me to do both.”

Mrs. Whiteman said she feels volunteering is important because at every organization, there is so much that needs to be done.

“People sit around and say, ‘What can I do?’ or they will say there’s nothing to do,” she said. “But there is always so much to be done. So many organizations can use a helping hand. You can volunteer around your schedule and they’re happy to have you for as long as you can be there.

“Any time someone says they want something to do, or when they tell me they’re retired and bored, I bring up the hospital,” she continued. “When your children are all in school, that’s when you can give back. That’s what I did, and I enjoy it. I just feel like I’m part of the family there.”

Aggie Schade, who has volunteered at Elk Regional for 17 years, is another of Elk Regional’s volunteer patient transporters. She retired from the Stackpole Carbon Company after 44 years and said she volunteers as a way to stay active. Not only does she volunteer at Elk Regional, but she also volunteers at the food bank and at Elk County Catholic Middle School. She has also volunteered at Pinecrest Manor, where she spent time visiting residents.

“People say they don’t have time to volunteer, but then they retire and complain that they don’t have anything to do,” she said. “You have to keep busy and active when you retire. You can’t sit at home and do nothing. Think of all the time you spend watching television. You could spend that time being up and active and doing something positive.”

Mrs. Schade said her favorite part about volunteering is the people she meets on a daily basis.

“I enjoy the people the most,” she said. “If you’re just sitting at home, you’re not getting out and meeting people. You’re just wasting your time, and your time on Earth is too precious to do nothing and complain. Get out and volunteer. Do something worthwhile.”

Elk Regional volunteers work in the Health System’s Mailroom, in Patient Transport, in the Health System Auxiliary’s ReSale Shop, and in the Peppermint Stick Gift Shop. Volunteers also provide clerical support to several departments at the Health Center and work in Resident Activities at Pinecrest Manor.

To become a volunteer, call the Volunteer Office (814) 788-8534 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Volunteers should be over the age of 13.

Remember: nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something. It's never too late to make a difference!

Photos: At top is Aggie Schade. At bottom is Peggy Whiteman. Mrs. Schade and Mrs. Whiteman are both patient transport volunteers at Elk Regional.