Doc Talk: Volunteers make Borgess Hospital a better place

Nancy Foster has been volunteering at Borgess Medical Center since 2007. (WWMT)

When you’re in the hospital, the circumstances usually aren’t the best.

Nancy Foster, who has been volunteering at Borgess Medical Center since 2007, understands.

“I think about all the people who maybe don’t have anybody coming to visit," Foster said, “but if they see a piece of mail coming or some flowers, that makes their day and it makes my day.”

Cards, flowers and prayers might make patients feel better, but at Borgess, those making the special deliveries, including Rosemary Hogmire, might be just what the doctor ordered.

“It just makes you feel good that you did something for somebody else,” Hogmire said.

Kandi Torres, the volunteer coordinator at Borgess, said volunteering is a two-way street.

“I find that the volunteers, if they’re maybe widowed or lonely at home, empty nesters, they find that they can come here and volunteer and get a sense of family or companionship,” Torres said. “Volunteers here [at Borgess], they just tend to make the hospital a better place to be. It doesn’t feel so clinical. It feels a little more homey.”

An article by the National institute on Aging says that studies suggest older adults who participate in what they believe are meaningful activities, such as volunteering in their communities, feel happier and healthier.

The UnitedHealth Group conducted a 2013 Health and Volunteering Study called "Doing Good for You" and found that among people who had volunteered in the previous 12 months, 96 percent said volunteering enriched their sense of purpose. And 95 percent said they are helping to make their community a better place.

Joe Schmitt, another longtime volunteer, said, “my wife has said to me, ‘You’re busier now than you were when you worked.’ So, I mean, I think keeping busy is a good thing.”

All three volunteers agree: The best medicine of all is the sense of belonging they feel within the walls of the hospital and the contagious smiles that brighten the days that otherwise might have been gray.

“You know, it’s amazing. I always leave here uplifted,” Schmitt said.

For more information on the requirements and how to volunteer, call the Borgess Volunteer Services at 269-226-4882.

Current openings include: patient care, gift shop, hospice, clerical, greeters, spiritual care, a knit-crochet group and more.

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