"You get a lot more than you give."
When Phyllis Hudgins of Mathews, Virginia started as a volunteer at Riverside Walter Reed Hospital decades ago, she did it to give back to her community…to help people she loved, and those she'd never met, through stressful times. "But you know what," Hudgins said one recent Monday, because she always volunteers on Mondays to start the week off right, "you get a lot more than you give." And that's why, Hudgins admits, she's kept coming back to volunteer at the hospital for more than 37 years.
This week (April 6-12), National Volunteer Week, Riverside Walter Reed salutes Hudgins and the team of more than 80 volunteers who help support the hospital's operations and the patients who come through the doors.
Volunteers are a proven asset to a wide range of organizations in communities across the nation. It is why President Richard Nixon established National Volunteer Week with an executive order in 1974. In healthcare, their presence is particularly noteworthy given their frequent interaction with patients and families, bringing a personal touch to people often in stressful situations. "Our volunteers give about 1,000 hours each month," said Ruth Keane, Riverside Walter Reed Human Resources Specialist who works with the volunteers. "They make a huge impact in our hospital and our departments count on them."
At Walter Reed, volunteers like Hudgins work throughout the facility and campus, including, but not limited to, registration and information, patient and emergency rooms, in the gift shop, as chaplains, during special events like blood drives, for administration, in recovery rooms and in physical therapy. No matter where they work, hospital volunteers directly impact patient care, freeing up hospital staff to focus on the clinical needs of patients.
Along with an adult volunteer program, Walter Reed maintains a volunteer program for teenagers at least 14 during the summer months. Applications for the teen program will be available for this summer starting May 1.
Applications for the adult program are available through the Human Resources Department at Riverside Walter Reed Hospital. In addition to the application, volunteers are interviewed and go through training specific to work in a healthcare environment. To be an active volunteer, they work at least one four hour shift each week.
"The joy that you get from volunteering is immeasurable," Hudgins said. "Here you can help those in need that you may know, or not know. And sometimes, all they need is a friendly, smiling face and warm heart to comfort them. We're happy to give that."
For information on volunteering at Riverside Walter Reed Hospital, call the Human Resources Department at 804-693-8800 or visit riversideonline.com for an online application.