Volunteers: Here Because They Choose to Be

April 07, 2014
Lebanon, NH

"Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation's compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another." Erma Bombeck

Photo: Janet Hamilton and Curt Ward, auxiliary board president and vice-president

Janet Hamilton and Curt Ward, auxiliary board president and vice-president respectively, embody the inspiring, generous spirit of volunteerism at D-H. (Photo by Mark Washburn)

April 6 -12 is National Volunteer Week, a great time to better appreciate and understand the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Volunteer Auxiliary Board. The board was founded in 1933 and has long been an integral part of our culture of caring.

The two-year term of auxiliary board presidency is currently held by Janet Hamilton. Along with her board duties, Hamilton continues her 10-year stint as an Emergency Department (ED) volunteer. “There are volunteers who have been here longer than me,” Hamilton notes. All 24 board members are active volunteers. There are also at-large members “We’re a pretty devoted group. Over 500 individuals spend 62,000 hours volunteering a year. We do a lot of things to enhance the hospital experience.”

Curt Ward is vice-president of the auxiliary, one of the four leadership positions on the board: president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer. “Our job is in partnership with the director of Volunteer Services, Andrea Henry, to assist with the volunteer programs at D-H. Part of my role is to chair the grants committee that distributes proceeds from the Pink Smock Shop. In the last 10 years we’ve given back $2.5 million in grants to the hospital.” Ward also volunteers in the ED and at the information desk; he will step into role of board president once Hamilton’s term is completed.

Ward and Hamilton are in agreement about how best volunteers can support staff, and thereby our patients. “As we’ve evolved over the years, what has been most successful is when we are really part of the department’s team,” says Hamilton.

“For example, in ED we have a true partnership,” Ward adds. “They handle training and scheduling and have a specific person who works with the department’s volunteers.”

The staff has worked hard to make it work, says Hamilton. “It’s not a one-way street. But, we know not every department is set up that way. Curt and I just need to know what the department requires so we can help.”

At the request of Dr. James N. Weinstein, CEO and president of D-H, the auxiliary board is taking on more of a leadership role. “Now the auxiliary president is part of the senior leadership group,” explains Hamilton. This allows for a bigger picture view to better define and focus the over 60 different groups and programs throughout the institution. “We’re also been tasked with increasing our numbers, and the more we as volunteers understand the complexities of the organization the better we’re able to help the community understand the value of service.”

There is a plethora of programs that volunteers make possible and available to patients, families and staff. They range from escorts and Lifeline, to pet therapy and the Pink Smock. This year volunteers will also be trained on Emergency Preparedness for mass disasters.

Ward mentions another service that may seem small, but can make all the difference: “We can just bring a smile, not only to patients and the families, but to staff.” Hamilton agrees, “People may volunteer for all kinds of reasons, but they’re here because they want to be.”

From the board and Volunteer Services, from the staff and your fellow volunteers, we thank you for your continued support and service.

Happy Volunteer Week!

If you are interested in volunteering at Dartmouth-Hitchcock we would love to hear from you. There is something for everyone, no matter age or ability. Please contact us at any one of our Volunteer Services locations:

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