- Cullman, Alabama

November 25, 2012

Auxiliary Volunteers: Bringing a little sunshine to patients

By Loretta Gillespie
The Cullman Times

— In 1967, a group of concerned ladies in Cullman saw the need for a service organization at the downtown location of the former Cullman hospital.

As a result of their concern and compassion, the Auxiliary was born. This organization took some of the workload off of the staff, but more importantly, they became a resource to the patients, bringing them a little sunshine each day, a smile, a kind word, a little empathy.

In the 45 ensuing years the Auxiliary has grown into an integral part of Cullman Regional Medical Center's volunteer organizations.

“My first exposure to the hospital came years ago when I served as a Candy Striper, a ‘junior volunteer’,” recalls Vice President of Ambulatory Services Susan Copeland. “It gave me an opportunity to interact with the staff and with some patients and to see what the workflow of a hospital was about. I remember feeling good about my volunteer duties and felt I had made a worthwhile use of my time and energy.

“Today, our volunteers at CRMC continue to provide a valuable service for all of us,” Copeland continued. “We are dependent on these men and women to assist in so many ways around the hospital. They not only help make our jobs easier, they also help brighten the day of those they serve. I feel strongly that one of the greatest things you can share with others is your time and we are extremely grateful to those volunteers who choose to share their gift of time with us.”

Sarah Hicks joined the CRMC Auxiliary in 1981. “We moved here in 1974,” said Hicks. “When they grew up my doctor told me that I needed to get out of the house because he could see that I might suffer from empty nest syndrome.”

Hicks did just what the doctor ordered — she joined the Auxiliary. “I had friends who were a part of the Auxiliary, and they encouraged me to join,” she said.

She fell in love with everything about the Auxiliary immediately. “I enjoyed the companionship of friends among the other Auxiliary volunteers and the hospital employees, but most of all I enjoyed seeing the patients’ faces light up when I walked into a room. They just always seemed so grateful that someone took the time to come in and speak to them,” she said.

The number of Auxiliary volunteers fluctuates from time to time, “Right now we have 18 members, but we have had as many as 35,” said Hicks, who is serving her 27th year as president of the CRMC Auxiliary.

The duties of the Auxiliary volunteers run the gamut from delivering the 100 copies of The Cullman Times that they furnish each day, to running errands for the different departments in the hospital.

“We put stickers on each paper and then we deliver them to the patients’ rooms, the front desk, nurses’ stations and doctors’ offices, as well as the different departments, like the Emergency Room waiting area,” she explained.

The Auxiliary volunteers deliver the mail, which includes many E-Cards sent to the hospital’s patients. They also deliver gifts sent from the downstairs gift shop, put up fliers, and get folders ready for such departments as the Pain Clinic and Medical Day, as well as help with patients’ charts.

CRMC Chaplin Tony Tidwell came up with the idea of involving area churches in donating items for baskets for the waiting rooms. The Auxiliary volunteers assemble these baskets each morning and make them available to the families of patients who were in the various waiting rooms throughout the hospital. “They might contain different things from day to day, depending on what the churches have collected,” explained Hicks. “Sometimes they have fruit, pudding cups, or individual packettes of crackers, cookies, chips, cakes, and things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, anti-bacterial wipes and things of that nature.”

 Sarah Hicks has found this to be a rewarding way to give back to her community. “I feel as if this is my calling, just as any minister is called to the pulpit,” she said. “I enjoy visiting with patients because I enjoy people,” she smiled.

“I think back on those ladies who saw a need for a service organization all those years ago and I find it very admirable of them to have done so.”

One of the other ways that the CRMC Auxiliary serves the hospital is hosting the book fair, which is a much anticipated bi-annual event. “In the past we have used the proceeds from the book fair for such necessary equipment as radios for 25 of the EMTs, and it also goes toward the cost of the newspapers we buy,” explained Hicks.

This years’ book fair will be from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28, and from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29, at CRMC Professional Office Building II, in the Colonel Cullmann Room.

Another gift to the hospital from Auxiliary fundraisers was suggested by the late Dr. Herman Ensor. He requested that the CRMC Auxiliary volunteers contribute the lovely Tree of Life, which graces the wall along the main concourse of the ground floor of the hospital near the front entrance.

The 45th anniversary of the Auxiliary is coming up soon, so if you happen to see the volunteers in the pink vests, remember to give them a smile and a big “thank you” for their years of service. 

Anyone interested in volunteering for the Auxiliary can come by the Marketing Department on the first floor of Professional Office Building 1, and fill out an application.  

For more information about becoming a member of the CRMC Auxiliary Volunteers, contact Community Relations Coordinator, Amy Linton, Cullman Regional Medical Center, 256-737-2754