Villagers Rena Marchand, Jeannie Rogale and Sandy Murphy passed a special milestone recently. The women, who are volunteers with The Villages Regional Hospital Auxiliary Foundation, each marked 10,000 service hours. “These ladies are unbelievably committed to volunteering at the hospital and are here almost every day,” said Lou Emmert, volunteer coordinator with the auxiliary foundation. “They each are willing to help out in any way they can.” The women are part of the hospital’s 950 auxiliary volunteers, but 115 of those volunteers are snowbirds. When the snowbirds leave in the spring, the hospital is in need of more help from its volunteers and many take on double shifts.
“We’re anxiously awaiting [the snowbirds’] return,” Emmert said.
Currently, the hospital has 91 open four-hour shifts to fill, she said. Volunteers serve in about 40 areas of the hospital and work in three four-hour shifts during the day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Marchand, who helps with training programs for auxiliary volunteers, said there are many different jobs people can do. Volunteers can work in the emergency department, patient care, outside transportation, infusion, supply chain, the gift shop or the cafe just to name a few areas. They also can serve in the auxiliary foundation office.
“There’s a volunteer position for just about everyone,” Marchand said.
Marchand, Rogale and Murphy are uncommon, Emmert said. Only three other volunteers have hit the 10,000 mark previously, said Marchand, historian for the auxiliary foundation.
The three women all have different volunteer areas.
Murphy works about five four-hour shifts per week in the emergency department.
When she began volunteering with the auxiliary about 12 years ago, she started out in emergency and liked the pace and variety of work there.
Whether it’s running errands for nurses and staff to helping patients and visitors, she keeps busy.
Now that she is the chair for the auxiliary volunteers who work in the department, she also makes sure shifts are covered and sometimes picks up a shift to work.
But she doesn’t mind serving.
The Village Mira Mesa resident said she especially likes making the patients or visitors feel a little more comfortable in what can be a stressful situation.
“Sometimes, it’s just doing some little things like getting someone a sandwich or something to drink,” Murphy said.
Marchand enjoys serving more on the fundraising and training side of the auxiliary.
“When I started volunteering about 16 years ago, I needed the flexibility and fundraising was perfect,” Marchand said.
For the past 11 years, the Village of Glenbrook resident has served as chair of the auxiliary’s Ye Olde Thrift Shoppe in Lady Lake. About 200 volunteers work at the shop and do a variety of jobs from sorting to pricing items of clothing, furniture and home decor, she said.
Marchand likes serving and is thankful for the friends she’s made.
Rogale started with the auxiliary in 2002. Currently, she is serving her second term as its president. She became president in 2018 and will serve through 2020.
She put in her 10,000 hours of service working at the front desk, infusion, admitting, and in the foundation and volunteer placement offices.
“[Volunteering] has become part of me,” the Village Mira Mesa resident said.
While working in the volunteer training placement office, Rogale explains the application process to prospective volunteers. Like Marchand, Rogale says she’s made many friends over the years while serving others, and she encourages others to give the auxiliary a try.
“We’d love to have you,” Rogale said.
In 2018, volunteers served a total of 166,053 hours. Independent Sector, a national membership organization for the charitable community, values volunteer work at $25.43 per hour, which means those hours were worth about $4.2 million. This year, through July 2019, volunteers have served 107,308 hours, and it looks like it will be about the same number as last year for this year’s year-end hours, Emmert said.
The auxiliary is planning a recruiting event from 9 a.m. to noon on Sept. 21 at Fenney Recreation Center for staffing at the Brownwood emergency department — a 16-bed freestanding ER expected to open in early 2020. The emergency department is a partnership between Central Florida Health, the nonprofit parent of The Villages Regional Hospital and Leesburg Regional Medical Center, and University of Florida Health Shands Hospital.
Another recruiting event also may be held in November for the hospital’s auxiliary volunteers.
However, the hospital recruits year-round. Anyone wanting to volunteer can contact the volunteer placement office at 352-751-8176, or Emmert at 352-751-8871.
Staff writer Laura Sikes can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5307, or firstname.lastname@example.org.