Community, Big Rapids Hospital, Reed City Hospital
Volunteers make a difference at Big Rapids, Reed City Hospitals
Gary Raffel, 72, is following in his mother Leona’s footsteps, literally, when he is volunteering at Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital.
Leona Raffel volunteered at Big Rapids Hospital many years ago, pushing a gift cart into waiting rooms and patient rooms offering gifts and flowers to patients and visitors. There was no hospital gift shop then.
Gary was born at the hospital and now enjoys serving his community in retirement by helping hospital staff and visitors alike.
“It feels good to help people and give back,” he said. “People are so caring and supportive and appreciative of the work we’re doing—it’s a great environment to be in.”
Fellow volunteer and retiree Alice Nunn, 67, agrees.
“I get to meet a lot of different people and the staff is really nice to work with – they’re great people,” she said. “They’re doing something good to help the patients and I just like to be a part of that. “
Nunn and Raffel each volunteer two days a week for four-to-five hours a day at Big Rapids Hospital. They are two of about 25 volunteers who volunteer in Big Rapids and at Spectrum Health Reed City Hospital and at the Susan P. Wheatlake Regional Cancer Center in Reed City.
With COVID-19 safety protocols relaxing, volunteers have recently returned to support the hospital teams.
“We have missed our volunteers the past two years,” said volunteer services coordinator Suzie Hicks. “Volunteers are a vital and important part of our organization, because many times they are the first person our patients see when they enter our facility.”
A team of volunteers operate the gift shop at Big Rapids Hospital and all of the proceeds go back into the hospital for projects and equipment.
Volunteers assist in many ways including by being greeters, offering registration assistance, providing patient escorts and wheelchair assistance, rolling gowns, organizing patient folders and perform light cleaning.
“It relieves the hospital staff of some of their duties and frees them up to best serve patients,” Nunn said. “I like to have a smile on my face so when patients come in that door it makes it a little bit easier for them. I just enjoy it. When I come home, I know I’ve done something good for the day.”
This is National Volunteer Week and hospital volunteers are being thanked with a small gift, a card and cake.
“We’re very happy to have our volunteers back and we hope to grow the program soon,” Hicks said.
For more information about volunteer opportunities, call Hicks at 231.592.4327
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