Volunteering is Good for Your Health

April 01, 2013

Based upon recent medical studies, volunteering helps people feel healthier, happier, and more connected.  Findings like those clearly show that people, especially older adults who volunteer tend to be less depressed and feel more vibrant than those who do not volunteer.  

With that in mind and in honor of National Volunteer Week, April 21-27, Bronson Battle Creek (BBC) would like to ask the community to pause and recognize all those who give of their time to help others.

Local hospital volunteers began their efforts in the 1930s by raising monies for new hospital equipment, by making clothing for newborns, and by comforting patients, all in three- and four-hour shifts.

Since that time, BBC volunteers have created a tradition of service and ambassadorship that has prevailed through periods of great change and growth.  The contributions made by these dedicated people are beyond measure, but here are some statistics that may help you appreciate their significance.

In 2012, more than 460 Bronson Battle Creek Auxiliary and Red Cross volunteers donated over 63,000 hours of their time.  The Points of Light Foundation calculates the value of the average volunteer’s time as being worth $21.79 an hour.  To quantify the impact on the hours donated—it came out to more than $1.35 million last year for their volunteering.  Some of their services are offered for a few short weeks a year, while others have been with the hospital for decades working what often looks like regular and part-time shifts. 

If that were not enough, in terms of financial clout, BBC volunteers helped raise over $96,000 last year for not only hospital equipment, but also for annual scholarships to help area students.  They do these things through a variety of fundraisers such as an annual golf outing; popcorn, book, and jewelry sales; Trees of Love dedication opportunities; and through the hospital gift shop and in the Green Door Restore, a thrift shop for second-hand treasures.

When not raising needed funds, BBC volunteers help at the hospital information desks with way finding, deliver flowers to rooms, and they escort patients to and from their appointments and hospital rooms.  Many of them still create prayer shawls and arm warmers for cancer patients, blankets and hats for newborns, stuffed animals for children in waiting rooms, and tray favors to brighten the patients’ meal carriers.

“Over the recent decades our volunteers reached some amazing goals for this community through their support of a variety of projects,” said Marlene Pardoe, BBC director of customer services.  “They purchased the Care-A-Van mobile health unit on wheels; neo-natal monitors for the Bronson BirthPlace—Battle Creek; equipment for the Bronson Cancer Care Center and the new hospice residence; and the Orthopaedic Renewal Center Patient Activity & Rehabilitation Center, as well as mobile x-ray equipment for our emergency department.  They are now raising money to purchase stereotactic breast biopsy equipment.  We are truly blessed to have such a ‘healthy’ group of volunteers caring about others here at our hospital.” 
 
“All too often, we take these individuals and the services they provide for granted because they are always here quietly working behind the scenes, performing tasks important to not only our patients and their families, but also to our staff,” added Audrey Adkins, patient representative for the Patient Relations/Volunteer Services department.  “Their willingness to share their unique talents makes every volunteer invaluable.”

“We remind our volunteers when they go through a training orientation to be respectful and caring as they are often the first and last person a patient greets when they come to our hospital,” concluded Pardoe.  “The patients and their families will remember that contact forever.”

For more information about the volunteer program at Bronson Battle Creek, call (245) 245-8470.

So the next time you think about volunteering, remember that you not only help others, but you can also improve your own health along the way.

Bronson Battle Creek is a 218-bed hospital that provides full outpatient and inpatient acute care including robotic surgery, diagnostics, and rehabilitation services; 100% all private rooms.  It also offers world-class diagnostic capabilities including PET/CT imaging, freestanding ‘open’ and traditional MRI, CT (16- and 64-slice), and 3.0 Tesla MRI.  Bronson Battle Creek has been recognized nationally as one of the safest hospitals, and has been a leader in the development of electronic health records as evidenced by multiple honors as one of America’s ‘most wired’ and ‘most wireless’ hospitals. The Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons recognizes the Bronson Battle Creek Cancer Care Center as a Comprehensive Community Cancer Program, and the only hospital in Michigan to receive the CoC’s Outstanding Achievement Award three times in a row. Specialty services include inpatient behavioral health, the county’s largest accredited sleep center, and a wound-healing center with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.  For nine years, Bronson Healthcare has been included on Working Mother magazine’s 100 Best Companies list as a leading family friendly employer. 


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