When Kay Dawson moved to Corvallis in 1972, she didn’t know anyone in town.
Why not try volunteering, Dawson’s husband, Fred, suggested. It would be a great way to meet new people.
After exploring several opportunities, Dawson decided to give her time at Good Samaritan Hospital in Corvallis, back when the hospital was still located at 27th and Harrison. Dawson began an active volunteer schedule, helping in Physical Rehabilitation, delivering flowers and shampooing patients’ hair when they were unable.
Dawson said people were always glad to see her because she wasn’t there to poke or prod. She was there to make their day a little better.
“I like people,” she said. “I’ve met some of the nicest people.”
Dawson has since logged more than 11,000 hours volunteering and has accumulated many treasured memories along the way.
Dawson, who is a wonderful cook, took time off from volunteering to run her own catering business. When she returned, her culinary skills found a home at the Mario Pastega House – a home away from home for out-of-area patients and their families who come to Corvallis for specialized medical care.
When she’s not coordinating the weekly meal or making a special treat for guests, Dawson enjoys visiting with them.
“I never ask them any questions about why they are here,” she said.
But people open up and tell her their stories.
Dawson remembers what it was like when she came to the medical center with her husband when he was being treated for cancer, and she kept a bedside vigil when he had pneumonia. Before Fred died in 2014, he made Kay promise that she would continue volunteering.
And she’s kept her promise. After she finishes the morning shift at the Pastega House, Dawson spends several hours at concierge desk at the Samaritan Pastega Regional Cancer Center, where everyone receives a personal welcome.
Dawson also gives her time to the Good Samaritan Hospital Auxiliary, which supports the hospital through volunteering, scholarships and grants to support hospital programs. People often ask Dawson how she is able to keep up.
“I get more out of it than I give,” she explained.
Are you inspired to volunteer? Learn more about volunteer opportunities with Samaritan at samhealth.org/Volunteer.