For Lorene Stewart, hospital volunteering isn’t just about giving. It’s also about building friendships and staying active.
“I like working with people, helping someone who has no idea what to get for a patient,” said Stewart, who played a key role in developing the Caring Corner gift shop at Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital in 1995.
Stewart is among several active auxiliary members who have helped the organization raise more than $1 million in east Linn County since 1985. These funds have gone toward equipment and major projects at the hospital and its outlying clinics in Lebanon, Sweet Home and Brownsville, as well as scholarships for east Linn County students pursuing health careers.
The auxiliary raised these funds through the gift shop and Garden Grounds espresso stand at the hospital – which Stewart also helped develop in 2005. The auxiliary hosts pie sales at Lebanon’s summer Concerts in the Park and various special sales at the hospital.
Stewart, who worked as a nurse and owned an arts and crafts store, started volunteering at the hospital in 1993 when she and her husband, Tom, retired. Today, Stewart mainly works on the auxiliary’s books.
“In the gift shop, you get to know the employees and the patients’ families,” she said. “Sometimes they just need to talk. ‘I have a relative here’ or ‘I just found out I have cancer.’ They need someone to listen to them, and you can really help them more than just by selling them something.”
Although the same relationship-building doesn’t occur at the coffee stand, Stewart said she enjoyed volunteering there as well. “I didn’t know about all the different coffee drinks until I took the training,” she said. “It was a terrific learning experience. It was a lot of fun.”
What would Stewart say to anyone looking for a place to volunteer? “Volunteering here can be so personally rewarding,” she said. “You’re doing something worthwhile, and you’re contributing to the community.”
She finds benefits to her health as well. “Mentally, it gives me something to look forward to. I’ve made so many friends, and I love being able to connect with them here.”
Volunteers and hospital auxiliaries are an important part of all five hospitals within Samaritan Health Services. Volunteers perform several duties at each hospital, and the auxiliaries raise funds for hospital equipment and student scholarships.
“It’s more than the hours our volunteers give or the funds they raise,” said Marty Cahill, Chief Executive Officer at Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital. “Volunteers give us their passion and commitment—they generously give of themselves to support our mission in building healthier communities together.”