Celebrating Pink Smocks and Hearts of Gold
Proctor Hospital’s Service Auxiliary celebrates 125 years of providing compassionate care and outstanding service.
“You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.” One of Sir Winston Churchill’s most famous quotes tells the story of volunteerism—and the virtues of caring for others—quite succinctly.
April 21st through 27th is National Volunteer Week, and I wanted to take this opportunity to say “thank you” to the countless volunteers across central Illinois who give freely of themselves to help others in our community, including Proctor Health Care employees, who volunteer for community rebuilding projects, work at events like Race for the Cure and Steamboat Festival, ring bells for The Salvation Army, and raise money for countless charities. By doing so, they enrich the lives of those in need and help create a vibrant, healthy community. I’m proud of them.
This year, National Volunteer Week takes on special meaning at Proctor Hospital, as our Service Auxiliary celebrates its 125th anniversary—a “quasquicentennial.” On January 22, 1888, 16 women met to form the Auxiliary Board for Cottage Hospital. In 1954, another group of women organized the Proctor Hospital Women’s Service League. Although both organizations had specific and separate functions, both organizations were actively working toward the same goal. In 1983, the two groups merged and became Proctor Community Hospital Auxiliary. Today, the Service Auxiliary at Proctor Hospital has 155 members. The “Pink Ladies,” as they are known, get their name from their signature pink smocks, and they, like many of our volunteers, receive countless words of praise and recognition from our patients, families and guests.
Proctor Hospital is blessed to have many other compassionate and dedicated volunteers, including our medical escorts, volunteer chaplains, Volunteer Services team and members of the Patient Advisory Council. All have very distinct roles, but they all share one objective: great care and service. During 2012, 243 volunteers donated a total of 44,548 hours.
In a societal culture where people are becoming increasingly disengaged from one another and spending less time involved in family activities and community organizations, it is moving to know that we have such a committed, talented and caring group of individuals working for our patients. “Most of the 'ladies' believe they have led very ordinary and inconsequential lives, but I know they represent the heart and soul of a thriving community and are extraordinary,” says Linn Ruffner, chairperson for the Service Auxiliary’s Quasquicentennial Committee. “Because of their strength, compassion and foresight, others have found a place to exercise their benevolence.”
People volunteer for a myriad of reasons, and the reasons are often highly personal. Many of our volunteers will share with you that they enjoy the fellowship with others. Some enjoy volunteering for the exercise, or just to get out of the house. Still others want to continue to be involved in organizations and share their valued experience. But perhaps the most important personal benefit is also the most selfless: the simple joy of providing service to others and adding that unique human component to their own lives.
Proctor volunteers help deliver mail and flowers, transport and discharge patients, provide spiritual support, help in emergency situations in the ER, make fountain sodas, manage a patient library, provide service for families in the ICU and surgical waiting area, and provide perspective and guidance through their own experiences as patients. Their dedication to our patients and to Proctor Hospital is heartwarming and an example for others to follow.
Thanks to all of our volunteers during their week—National Volunteer Week, April 21st through 27th—and throughout the year. Congratulations to the Service Auxiliary at Proctor for 125 years of service to the community. That is a remarkable milestone. Our volunteers provide unmatched healthcare experiences… every day, and we thank you. iBi
Paul E. Macek is president and CEO of Proctor Hospital.