50 Years of Volunteering...
They aren't medical professionals, but for 50 years now they have been making your stay at the hospital just a little easier. Some of the Florida Healthcare Auxiliary Volunteers have been helping for even longer than a half century.
There are about a thousand healthcare volunteers at Shands Hospital in Gainesville. 75 of those are "Auxilians"...men and women dedicated to volunteering at least one day a week.
Together they serve thousands of hours and are probably some of the first faces you'll see when you enter the hospital.
Alicia Churchill said, "If you are fortunate enough to have been given, you have to give back." Churchill is 86 years old and has been volunteering at Shands Hospital for 36 years. She started volunteering at a hospital in Pittsburgh during World War II when she was just 14, and she considers this her life's work.
Churchill said, "I think once you get in an see how much you're needed and how rewarding it is, it makes you feel so good." Churchill has served in multiple roles within the Shands Auxiliary. She's now in charge of the Family Surgical Waiting Room.
Churchill keeps families in the loop on how their loved one's surgery is progressing. She says being there for people in such a stressful time makes a lasting impact. She said, "You get a closeness with them and of course you know what they're going through because we've all been on both sides."
Volunteer Director Constance Keeton says the time spent by Auxilians and other volunteers translates to a financial gift. She said, "And that equates to a $1.5 million offset gift of time and service to the hospital."
Keeton says their time and energy is an inspiration to others working at the hospital. She said, "It's one thing to people who get up and get dressed and go to work and it's another thing to work with people who get up, get dressed and come to serve."
Auxilians raise money and have given over $3 million in the last few years for patient care facilities and services. Churchill says she wants to inspire the next generation to give of themselves and encourages people her age to continue serving. She said, "I think being a volunteer, it makes you live longer and keeps your mind working."
Shands had a luncheon to celebrate the Auxiliary's 50 year Anniversary last week. Hospital CEO Timothy Goldfarb remarked that the Auxiliary has been serving in hospitals since President John F. Kennedy was inaugurated.
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