UTMB Volunteers and Angleton Danbury Campus Auxiliary: A Work of Heart

Mar 21, 2016, 08:17 AM by KirstiAnn Clifford

More than 350 active volunteers, including those in Galveston and League City and members of the Angleton Danbury Campus Auxiliary, give their time, energy and passion to serve patients and their families at UTMB’s three campuses.

Whether they’re delivering coffee and seasonal beverages to waiting areas, or providing emotional and spiritual support to patients receiving infusions, volunteers play a vital role in UTMB’s mission to improve health for the people of Texas and around the world.

In 2015 alone, Galveston and League City volunteers donated more than 12,400 hours, and ADC Auxiliary members donated nearly 20,000 hours!

Take a moment to say “thank you” to our volunteers, and learn a little bit more about several of them throughout the institution who have spent months, years—even decades—of their lives lending their ears and giving a helping hand to those who need it most.
BobbyePeltier
Bobbye Peltier
UTMB Angleton Danbury Campus
Volunteer for 47 years

Bobbye Peltier is a floor hostess at UTMB’s Angleton Danbury Campus. She visits every patient who is admitted to the hospital and tries to make their stay more comfortable and pleasant by listening and giving out stuffed animals and fresh flowers. She also works a blood drive once a month and is “the cookie lady”—in charge of handing out homemade refreshments for blood donors.

Why do you volunteer at UTMB? I’m actually one of the charter members of the Auxiliary of Angleton Danbury Medical Center, now called UTMB Health Angleton Danbury Campus Auxiliary, a group of more than 200 volunteers. There was a definite need for a hospital in our local area and I went over to check it out and got hooked. I’ve been a floor hostess since May 1969. My husband and I were rice farmers, but I still found time to volunteer. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you can do whatever you set our mind to, and as the mother of eight children, I wanted to set a good example for them.

I’m 87 years old now and have volunteered nearly 30,000 hours. I’ve seen many changes over the years, but I always enjoy making a stranger feel better. If someone needs extra attention, I visit them and give them a pocket angel. One experience that has stuck with me occurred several years ago, when a man was dying and one of the nurses asked if I would sit with the family. We all stood around his bed holding hands and singing a song. I can’t carry a tune, but they didn’t care! It was a moving experience and he passed away peacefully.
AmeliaCollins
Amelia Collins
UTMB Galveston Campus
Volunteer for more than 30 years

Amelia Collins volunteers in the Acute Care for Elders (ACE) Unit at UTMB’s Galveston Campus. Bilingual in English and Spanish, she visits with patients and provides company for those who don’t have any visitors or just want to talk. In 2014, she was named UTMB’s Volunteer of the Year.

Why do you volunteer at UTMB? I’m a proud BOI (Born on the Island) and was born at UTMB 84 years ago—I trained here, worked here, retired here and now I’m volunteering here! I’ve always felt like I’m here to give the best that is in me to my church, my family and my community. I started volunteering at UTMB while I was still working in Surgical Pathology. During my lunch hour, I would rock babies in the pediatric hospital. When I retired from UTMB in 1994, I continued volunteering and now visit with elderly patients in the ACE Unit—I’m among my peers there and many of them are actually younger than me. Many of the patients are lonely because they don’t have any family members who can stay with them, so I will sit down next to them and provide some company. Sometimes, you just hold their hand and sometimes, they don’t want you to leave. Many patients tell me I made their day because no one has visited them except for nurses and doctors, so it’s very rewarding.
JimStricklin
Jim Stricklin
UTMB Galveston Campus
Volunteer for 20 years

Jim Stricklin is in charge of a beverage cart that he takes all over John Sealy Hospital and UTMB Health Clinics on the Galveston Campus. He also collects magazines from around the community and distributes them throughout the hospital. On most weekday mornings, he shows up around 5:30 a.m. to start brewing coffee and make his rounds. If it’s a holiday, you may even see him in costume!

What do you like most about volunteering at UTMB? I like to bring laughter and smiles everywhere I go, especially to the OR waiting area, where people may be nervous because they have a loved one in surgery. I’ll go in there and tell them I have fresh coffee. If it’s a Wednesday, I’ll say, “I just made it fresh . . . last Friday.” And people are like, “Friday?!” and start laughing. I also dress up in costume and decorate my coffee cart every holiday that the clinics are open, including Mardi Gras. I’ve been doing it for years and people really get a kick out of it. Just about every day, people come up and thank me for doing what I’m doing—many times they even try to tip me, but I refuse.

Before I started volunteering at UTMB, I was a correctional officer at Hospital Galveston and would escort offenders over here to see the physicians. So, I already knew many of the doctors, nurses and staff. When I retired in 1996, I started volunteering four or five days a week. I tell people that volunteering is what keeps me alive—I love doing this.
CarlSchutz
Carl Schutz
UTMB Galveston Campus
Volunteer for 15 years

Carl Schutz is a Pastoral Care volunteer at UTMB’s Galveston Campus. On Tuesday mornings, he can be found visiting with patients receiving infusions on the third floor of UTMB Health Clinics. As a lay chaplain, he provides support for the spiritual, religious,emotional and value concerns of patients.

What do you like most about volunteering at UTMB? The people. I see a lot of the same patients every week while they are receiving treatment, and the nurses and doctors are like family to me. Most of the time, you can find me in the infusion room in the Cancer Center. I roll up a stool next to patients receiving an infusion like chemo, iron or blood and introduce myself as a lay chaplain. If they don’t want to visit, they can say “no, thank you,” but the majority of patients start talking. If they want to pray, I pray with them, but I try not to come off as an evangelist—I’m just there to give them some distraction and get their mind off the situation they are dealing with. If I can get one person’s mind off their concerns for one minute, that’s worth my whole year. Some of the best moments are when I start talking with somebody who’s not in a particularly good mood and doesn’t really want to talk, but I find a way to engage with them. By the time they leave, they are smiling and laughing. It’s like their whole demeanor has changed and they walk a little higher. It makes me feel like I’ve done something to help them.
Lavenia LaGrone pic
Lavenia LaGrone

UTMB Galveston Campus
Volunteer for 6 years

Lavenia LaGrone is a volunteer in the Emergency Department at UTMB’s Galveston Campus. She is the “go-to” person for any administrative duty needed, including filing, preparing spreadsheets, maintaining mailboxes and lockers for employees, answering phones and running errands.

Why do you volunteer at UTMB? I worked at UTMB as a research chemist for 35 years prior to my retirement in 2005. My last position was with Dr. Bill Mileski in his research lab in the ED, so it’s nice to be able to give back to the department. After UTMB reopened following Hurricane Ike, I had a doctor’s appointment, and after the appointment, I stopped by to say “hi” to the staff in the ED office. Prior to the storm in 2008, there were about six or eight administrative people working there, but after the storm, there were only two. I asked if they needed help and the rest is history. I have been volunteering two mornings each week since then. Besides enjoying learning to do the different tasks, volunteering gets me up and out of bed each morning with a purpose. In addition to volunteering at UTMB, I volunteer three mornings each week at the Turning Point Food Pantry. The truth be known, I really need to feel like I am making a difference each day in some way.
RuthDesJardins
Ruth Des Jardins
UTMB League City Campus
Volunteer for 11 months

Ruth Des Jardins offers beverages to patients and visitors at UTMB’s League City Campus. Most Thursday afternoons, she wheels a drink cart to the different patient areas, sharing a laugh and quenching any thirst.

Why do you volunteer at UTMB? I am a BOI (Born on the Island) and recently moved back to Texas from New Mexico after the passing of my husband in 2014. After spending a few months getting settled in my home, I felt that I needed something to fill my life—sitting in my easy-chair watching TV was not an option. I needed to give back and keep my life busy. My daughter, who lives in League City and works for UTMB, told me about volunteer opportunities at Victory Lakes. The facility is a perfect fit and I don’t have to travel very far from home. I now volunteer on Thursdays and offer drinks of water, coffee and lemonade from my cart. Of course, sometimes people ask me for a cocktail, but I just smile and tell them the bar is closed until 5 p.m. I love the communication I have with people. Sometimes they just need a friendly word and a smile.

UTMB’s Volunteer Services recruits, orients and trains volunteers to participate in a wide variety of opportunities throughout UTMB’s hospitals and clinics. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer at UTMB, visit www.utmbhealth.com/volunteer. For more information about the ADC Auxiliary, call 979-849-2152.