BY KATIE MATTESON
Volunteers at Ascension All Saints recently traded in their salmon-colored jackets for navy blue uniforms, but still maintain the same commitment to support their local hospital as established by their founders more than 50 years ago.
Formerly known fondly as “Pink Ladies” and student volunteers as “Candy Stripers,” today’s 300 Volunteers in Partnership (VIP) are comprised of men, women and teens who provide helpful services to patients and staff, as well as funding for scholarships and financial support for Ascension – All Saints.
“When we factor in the money volunteers raise and donate, as well as the value of all their volunteer hours, our volunteers provided $969,765 worth of services to the hospital during the past fiscal year,” said Cindy Clemens, Director of Volunteer and Senior Services. “We often say our wonderful volunteers are worth a million – and we really mean it.”
Volunteers opportunities include:
- Working at the gift shop, either at the Spring Street or Wisconsin Avenue campuses.
- Making rounds with a comfort cart to offer a selection of distraction and comfort items to patients and waiting room visitors.
- Driving a courtesy van to help patients, visitors and staff members navigate the Spring Street Campus.
- Accompanying their certified pet therapy dogs to spread joy, reduce anxiety and ease fears for patients and visitors alike.
- Distributing game sheets to patient rooms, delivering prizes or doing data entry for the weekly game shows broadcast to patient rooms. The SMILE game show emulates BINGO and the Schwobble game show resembles Wheel of Fortune.
- Serving as a greeter, offering direction and escort, as well as providing light clerical assistance at reception desks and within various departments.
- Cuddling babies and interacting with children at the Little Saints Childcare Center.
- Knitting baby hats.
- And MUCH more!
The VIPs also run an educational program open to all second graders in Racine County. Students come to the Wisconsin Avenue Campus and receive hands-on experiences with common hospital equipment at several learning stations and also get to listen to their own heartbeats.
Retired teacher Jan Abraham-
son took her students to the program for many years, so it seemed natural for her to begin volunteering with the program when she retired 10 years ago. Now she’s president of the Volunteers in Partnership with Ascension – All Saints Board of Directors.
As a nonprofit organization, separate from the hospital, VIP raises funds to support its programs, fund scholarships and contributes to Ascension-All Saints. Currently the volunteers are focusing on fulfilling their pledge of $250,000 to the renovation and expansion of the All Saints Cancer Center. Volunteers work with on-site vendors to sell chocolates, nuts, books, jewelry and other items throughout the year. They also conduct raffles and a number of fundraising sales and events, including the annual Love Lights project, poinsettia sales, Scrip (gift card) sales and more.
Upcoming winter fundraisers include:
- Sunday, Jan. 13: Dinner at Buona Vita, 3701 Durand Ave., Racine. Purchase your $12 ticket in advance, then drop in between 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. to enjoy a dinner including spaghetti and meatballs, beverage, salad, bread and butter and a beverage. A gift basket silent auction concludes at 2 p.m.
- Thursday, Feb. 21: Painting at Meadowbrook Country Club, 6-8 p.m., for $45 you will enjoy a buffet of appetizers, pizza and cookies, along with one complimentary glass of wine while creating a cherry blossom still life to take with you. The colors can be tailored to complement your home’s decor. There will be drawings for door prizes throughout the evening. Tickets must be purchased in advance
Clemens views the Volunteer Department as the Human Resources for the volunteer program. “We screen, train and place the volunteers throughout our organization. We advocate for them and recognize them. By and large, though, our volunteers find their ‘home’ within one of our departments or service areas like the games shows or Children’s Program. They really bond with their fellow volunteers and staff that they work with. That’s what keeps them coming back – – the fulfilling relationships that they create over time. And we feel lucky to be a part of that process,” she said.
Those interested in volunteering should contact her office to make an appointment to come in for an interest and skills assessment, and to discuss available volunteer hours.
After completion of a background check, medical tests and immunizations (if needed), new volunteers will be provided with training on hospital procedures and then referred to the individual department for more specific training.
All volunteers are also required to participate in annual refresher training.
For more information, call (262) 687-8070.