"Give us the strength to labor diligently and courage to think and to speak with clarity and conviction, but without prejudice and pride.
Grant us, we beseech thee, both wisdom and humility in directing our united efforts to do for others in need," states the Meritus Medical Center Auxiliary prayer.
Barbara Resh, 69, of Hagerstown recites these words as the sitting president of Meritus Medical Center Auxiliary, Inc. Resh heads a staff of auxiliary volunteers who help patients and provide assistance throughout the hospital.
Anyone who has ever used the information desk at Meritus Medical Center or bought a gift from the gift shop has met one of the auxiliary volunteers who Resh oversees.
Resh began volunteering with the Auxiliary in July of 2003 when she retired from her job as a sales representative after 31 years with The Herald-Mail.
She said she always wanted to give back, so she began volunteering at Washington County Hospital.
"She started as one of our Emergency Department greeters, acting as a liaison between patients in the Emergency Department and their family members in the waiting room," said Mitch Towe, director of Voiunteer Services at Meritus Medical Center. "She eventually became the auxiliary chairperson for this group of volunteers, training them and coordinating their schedules."
Towe asked Resh to consider becoming the president-elect of the auxiliary in 2008 when, he said, he realized she was "an outgoing person who liked to work with the community, as well as the fact that she had a career in sales."
Resh served for two years as president-elect and became the president in June of 2010. As sitting president, she will serve a two-year term, which will end in June 2012.
She has filled many vacancies making up the full board of directors of the auxiliary by getting volunteers to take leadership roles such as vice-president, Robinwood communications chair, Repeat Performance Thrift Shop chair and several other positions. The volunteer she coordinates work in Ambulatory Services, Pediatrics, Cardiac Rehab, Surgical Waiting, Care and Comfort and many other areas around the hospital.
"She has been very proactive in her role," said Towe.
But, for Resh, having the title of president is just that — a title. She said her heart is and always has been with the hands-on volunteering done by the auxiliary volunteer staff.
Volunteers on the auxiliary staff perform various duties from giving out crayons and coloring books to children waiting in the Emergency Room to comforting people who have lost loved ones.
"We are lucky because most of the hospitals in Maryland have problems finding volunteers, but at Meritus we have one of the largest staffs. So many people just want to help," Resh said.
Resh's auxiliary volunteers begin by attending an orientation held by Towe.
Afterward, new volunteers go to different departments to train with an experienced volunteer for three sessions.
When they have completed this training, they are ready to volunteer on their own.
On June 27, 2012, the Washington Country Meritus Auxiliary will celebrate its 60th year. The youngest member is a 15-year-old volunteer with the VolunTeens and the oldest is a 90-year-old volunteer.
"We are there to serve throughout the hospital with discretion. We are there to aid the aged, the ill and the very young with generosity and with gentleness," Resh said.
Although humble, Resh's responsibilities as president of the Meritus Medical Center Auxiliary are extensive.
She conducts the monthly board and business meetings, oversees the fundraising endeavors, which annually net around $200,000, represents the auxiliary to the community, and she has a seat on the Meritus Healthcare Foundation Board of Directors.
What might seem like an overwhelming amount of work for a retiree, Resh handles with determination.
"She has strengthened the fundraising aspects of the auxiliary, successfully seeing that the auxiliary's $1.5 million pledge to build the new medical center was fulfilled during her term," Towe said.
On Dec, 11, 2010, Resh and the auxiliary volunteers made what could have been a difficult transition a successful one when the hospital moved from the old facility, Washington County Hospital.
The move began at 5 a.m. and by the end of the day she was not only the last president of the Washington County Hospital Auxiliary, but also the first president of the Meritus Medical Center Auxiliary.
The building might be new, but Resh has maintained the tradition of charity rooted in the auxiliary. Members recently raised $2,000 for MedBank, a program that provides financial assistance for people who can't pay their medical bills.
The auxiliary also gives a baby wrap, similar to a Snuggie, to all babies who leave the hospital to help them stay safe in their cribs.
One of the major contributions continued by Resh and the auxiliary is The Tree of Lights. This ceremony was started by then president Jane Rozes.
This ceremony is a memorial to honor and pay tribute to patients who have died. A placard for each loved one is placed around the main lobby of the hospital. This year, the ceremony will be held on Sunday, Dec. 4.
"It has been a privilege to serve as president of the auxiliary," Resh said. "Volunteering is very rewarding. It keeps you young, it keeps your mind going and you get so much satisfaction from volunteering."
"Some volunteers have lost their spouses, so it helps alleviate their loneliness. Also, it helps people make friends by connecting with patients and other volunteers," she said.
Next year, Resh will be responsible for training the president-elect for the next term and conducting the annual membership meeting of the auxiliary.
When her tenure as president is complete, Resh said she hopes to continue to give her time throughout Meritus by serving around the hospital wherever assistance is needed.