The Impact of Volunteering
Every spring at Lakeland, we pay tribute to the volunteers who give their time and talents to make our health system a better place for our patients and staff. These volunteers make ahuge impact on our organization. In fact, last year, more than 900 volunteers (including 35 pet volunteers) donated a grand total of almost 115,000 hours of service.
We often see the next generation of healthcare leaders start as student volunteers, a role in which they gain valuable insight into the medical field. One of them is Andrew Vigansky, a 16-year-old Lakeshore High School student who was recently awarded one of our organization’s highest honors—a heart on his identification badge, which signifies that he touched the hearts of his coworkers by displaying compassionate care. The Emergency Department staff members nominated Andrew for this recognition because of everything he does to support the team, such as cleaning patient rooms to help reduce wait times.
On the other side of the age spectrum, Lakeland has a number of volunteers who prove that growing older is no barrier to being active and productive. If you’ve been to our Center for Outpatient Services in St. Joseph, you may have met Chris Ruppel, 93, and Ed Schultz, 93, who are among our most senior volunteers. Rain or shine, Chris and Ed drive patients and visitors from the parking lot to the facility’s entrance in courtesy shuttles. By offering a warm welcome and a convenient ride, Chris and Ed make our patients and visitors feel safe and comfortable before they even walk through our doors.
The volunteers have left their mark in other ways through their own philanthropic organization, the Lakeland Health Auxiliary. Last year, the Auxiliary continued a long tradition of service with a $150,000 gift in support our robotic surgery program. Over the years, the Auxiliary has donated millions of dollars to special projects at Lakeland by raising funds through income from gift shops, book sales, and other special events. In addition, the Auxiliary awards $16,000 in scholarships each year to student volunteers. Their fundraising efforts make it possible for Lakeland to continue to meet the needs of those we serve.
Many thanks to all of our Lakeland volunteers—your dedication is truly inspiring. And a special thank you to Loraine Frobel, who donated the most time to Lakeland last year with 1,300 hours; Jan Houseman, who is our longest-serving volunteer with 60 years of service; and Patt Johnson, who has accumulated the most hours over her 40 years of volunteering with 27,525 hours. For community members interested in helping us make a difference, please visit www.lakelandhealth.org/volunteer to learn more about our volunteer opportunities.