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Hospital auxiliary marks more than 3 million hours of service

November 06, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - During a recent experience as a patient, Washington County Hospital volunteer Vivian Hackman said a nurse commented on her positive spirit.

Her warm smile brightening her face as she spoke, Hackman reflected on more than 52 years of service during a celebration Sunday for hospital volunteers.

"I've felt as though they gave me back as much as I have given them," Hackman said, referring to the many individuals with whom she had contact over the years.

In 342 years, someone working all day every day would not match the accomplishment of the Washington County Hospital Auxiliary, which Sunday marked more than 3 million hours of volunteer service. More than 100 people - mostly women - turned out for a reception at Robinwood Medical Center to celebrate.

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For perspective, James P. Hamill, president and chief executive officer of the hospital, said he calculated what the 3 million mark represents in days and years. Roughly, that is 125,000 days or 342 years, he said.

"I can't fathom 3 million hours in terms of time given," Hamill said.

Since she started volunteering at the hospital in 1954, Hackman said she has logged 46,800 hours. At one point, she said, she donated nine hours a day, three days a week, and she filled in for other volunteers who could not report for their shifts. Hackman, 84, said she volunteers only on Mondays. She said she works 8 1/2 hours.

Alice Abbott, a charter member of the auxiliary, which began in 1952 as the Washington County Hospital Women's Auxiliary, said she never was concerned about tracking her hours. That was not why she started volunteering, she said.

"My father was a Methodist minister in Baltimore ... and I was taught to be a friend and to help others," Abbott said. She said she believes everyone should volunteer.

According to Mitch Towe, director of volunteer services at the hospital, about 5,200 people have volunteered their time over the years. Though many of the current group of about 300 volunteers are older, Towe said 44 teenagers participate in a program just for them.

During an average day, about 30 people volunteer at the hospital, Towe said.

"Their primary mission is to provide care and comfort to the patients and the families," Towe said. The hospital always seeks more volunteers, he said.

When she started volunteering, Hackman said she was a mother with two young children. Now that she is older, she said she has no desire to hang up her uniform.

During a recent hospital stay, Hackman said she received excellent care, even though the health professionals did not seem to recognize her. Laughing, she said, a doctor told her she was young for her age. And, a nurse seemed to recognize the positive attitude Towe said he looks for in all volunteers.

Every morning, Hackman said, the nurse told her, "Good morning, sunshine."

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