National Volunteer Week (April 23—29) is a chance to highlight the important contributions volunteers make throughout the year, and Augusta University is joining this national movement with a variety of events.
It’s part of a larger emphasis on volunteerism that started at the top.
“Dr. Keel is very passionate about service, both by connecting our students, faculty and staff with the community through volunteer service as well as by bringing the community to work with us in our facility,” said Tina Baggott, associate vice president for volunteer services and engagement.
For Tobi Calhoun, an Emergency Room volunteer, volunteering gave him the chance to remain in the hospital setting he loved after the effects of a stroke prevented him from working as a member of the anesthesia team.
“I had to do something,” he said. “I valued my job. I loved my job.”
So he started volunteering in the ER in 2014.
“If I can change one person’s life in a positive way in the span of a day – I don’t know that I’ve saved a life, but I know one thing: I’ve made that person’s life a bit better,” he said. “And I’m still in the hospital doing what I want to do.”
Similarly, Ernestine Lockett, who volunteers twice a week as part of the pastoral care team, enjoys the opportunity to give back.
“I can be a shoulder to cry on for families who are going through difficult times,” she said. “If I was doing what I’m doing now when I was working, I never would have retired.”
To help pave the way for more volunteer opportunities, the Office of Volunteer Services and Engagement has been conducting road shows, visiting departments all over the hospital to better understand their needs and to learn where and how volunteers can be utilized to meaningfully support the staff.
In addition, Keel has requested stronger connections between the university and the medical center. The VolunJAG program brings college students to the hospital to volunteer, while the VolunTEEN program targets area high school students, something that adds to the volunteer pool while also exposing prospective students to the university.
“We have recently built a partnership with our admissions office on the Summerville Campus that allows us to hold our volunteer orientations at Oak Hall,” Baggott said. “That way we can really show them Augusta University.”
While volunteers will enjoy spot visits as they work, the main Volunteer Week event is Tuesday’s Bravo Brunch, a thank you event at the Alumni Center where a series of volunteer awards will be given out, including the first Volunteer of the Year award. (Update: Read about Tuesday’s award winners).
While Baggott hopes this will be an annual event, she insists the main takeaway is the idea that we’re all potential recruiters.
“Every talent has a place here,” she said. “If you’re a painter, if you like to read stories, if you like to knit – we have a place for you.”
Throughout the week, Jagwire will be showcasing a few of the many volunteers through their Six Word Stories, which is part of a broader campaign recognizing the great people who make up the Augusta University family. Please continue to check the Employee page of Jagwire for more volunteer Six Word Stories as well as a list of all the volunteer award winners, and visit the Volunteer Services and Engagement page for more information about volunteer opportunities.