The Vernon Woods hosted its annual Christmas tea Thursday as a way to say “thank you” to the individuals who volunteer at West Georgia Health facilities.
Vernon Woods’ staff – executive director Susan Burdick and leasing director Kathy Howard – along with WGH staff – director of volunteer and community services Jean Cook, marketing/community relations director Patricia Rogers, hospital gift shop coordinator Tamrah Oliver and Paige Cason of Helping Hands – all took the opportunity to talk with the volunteers.
“We enjoy doing this every year for our West Georgia volunteers, they give so much of themselves, it is our pleasure to take this opportunity to thank them,” Burdick said.
As the volunteers entered the holiday-decorated dining area, Howard greeted them and wrote their names on tickets for a chance to win a Christmas floral arrangement.
“Thank you for all of your help, we can not say enough about how much we appreciate our volunteers,” Howard said to newly arriving volunteer Ruth Johnson.
The volunteers were treated to hot and cold drinks, fruit, light hors d’oeuvres and beautiful desserts. Tables were decorated and arranged so that the volunteers could sit and talk in small groups. The WGH staff moved among their guests thanking them for their service and talking about upcoming holiday plans.
At one table, four of the volunteers were gathered, sharing some of their experiences with each other. All four of the women expressed joy and satisfaction in the jobs that they volunteer for.
O’Livia Meeks has been a volunteer for about three years at Twin Fountains Nursing Home.
“I just enjoy helping the residents. I retired from education and I was originally approached to help some of the residents with their reading, but you know how it goes, you get involved and you do more and more,” Meeks said. “I enjoy being around older people, I learn a lot from them.”
Carrie Hightower has been a volunteer with the First Step Program since August.
“I retired from nursing in public health in immunization, so I was working with mothers and their infants. I have to stay busy and if you enjoy giving and doing, you would enjoy being a volunteer,” she said.
Joy Holmes has been volunteering at Twin Fountains Nursing Home twice a week for the past 10 years.
“I work with the activity director there and I do whatever needs to be done. Elder people are my calling. I love working with them,” Holmes said.
“We have over 100 volunteers in many different areas and in our long-term facilities,” Cook said. “We ask that our volunteers commit to serve at least four hours a week.”
The first step to becoming a WGH volunteer is to fill out an application that can be found online at www.wghealth.org. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, will have a background check and be tested for tuberculosis. Once the initial screening is complete the applicant must go through a training program. Volunteers are responsible for buying their own uniform, all other costs are covered by WGH.
“The volunteers provide that extra special personal attention that can help to free up the staff for other clinical tasks,” Cook said. “Our volunteers make a big difference for our patients and residents.”