Shirley VonBehren of East Alton has been volunteering in Saint Anthony’s Gift Shop since 2007. She serves as fund-raising co-chair. About a year ago, she began making and donating scarves for the Gift Shop.
ALTON – Longtime River Bend residents Dorothy Droste and Lulu Lamere have one thing in common – their love of volunteering for Saint Anthony's Health Center.
Droste, who started working at Saint Anthony’s as a teen, volunteers as a patient advocate.
“My main job is to talk with the patient and their family, making sure they are comfortable and if there is anything we can do,” said Droste, a retired registered nurse. “I feel that volunteering isn’t anything like a job; in fact, it’s very therapeutic. It is nice being around the Sisters. They’re kind, cheerful and radiate love.”
Lamere felt the calling to help Saint Anthony’s Hospice program. She works in the office making followup bereavement calls to families of the deceased and assembling gift bags for patients and their loved ones.
“Hospice took care of my husband before he passed away. After he passed, I wanted to do something worthwhile with my life, and I couldn’t think of anything more worthwhile than Hospice,” Lamere said. “It really enriches my life and gives me a sense of purpose.”
“Saint Anthony’s radiates peace, love and comfort, and I would like to see more volunteers experience it,” Droste said. “Volunteers are treated very well here.”
Cherie Schmidt, the volunteer coordinator of Saint Anthony’s Auxiliary, relies on volunteers like Droste and Lula to fulfill Saint Anthony’s Mission, but she needs more help.
“Volunteering your time is unselfish, but it is not without its rewards,” Schmidt said. “It provides the opportunity to meet new people and establish social connections, and research is starting to show how important these opportunities can be for our well-being.”
Studies published in the “Aging and Mental Health” and “Psychological Science” journals found that the benefits of volunteering are not limited to the recipients of the volunteer services. In fact, the studies found volunteers experience greater health benefits than those who receive support through these activities.
Schmidt said the benefits spread out from the volunteer and infuse into the community.
“Every day I witness the positive outcomes of people volunteering,” Schmidt said. “Volunteer work helps a person maintain a sense of purpose and self-respect. In return, volunteers help our community members through their compassion, experience and skills gained through many years of work and life.”
The studies also show older volunteers are the most likely to receive the greatest benefits from volunteering. Those benefits can include greater functional ability and lower rates of depression.
“You get a special sense of pride and well-being when you give your experience and skills to help others,” Schmidt said. “If you’re around positive, devoted people doing positive things for others, you can’t help but feel better. Their attitude is infectious.”
Saint Anthony’s offers many opportunities for caring, dependable adults. Some of the positions include: the Information Desk, Escorts, the Gift Shop, patient advocate, Surgery Waiting Room and Hospice.
“In addition, any volunteer who works a three- to four-hour shift receives a free meal and special invitation to the Christmas luncheon, Recognition Banquet and Health Center Picnic,” Schmidt said. “Help yourself and your community – be a volunteer.”
At this month’s Volunteer Recognition Banquet, Saint Anthony’s will be recognizing one 30-year volunteer, Anna Mae Heavner; and three 25-year volunteers, Loretta VanBuren, Mabel Wouk and Lorene Prullage. In addition to these awardees, Saint Anthony’s has two 50+ year volunteers, Marge Fischer and Ethel Mazrum. More than 70 volunteers will be recognized at the annual awards program.
For individuals interested in hospice volunteering, Saint Anthony’s Hospice Volunteer Training program is set from 5 to 9 p.m. April 21 and 22 at the Saint Clare’s Professional Building, 815 E. Fifth St. To register for the Hospice training, call 618-463-5636.
For information on Saint Anthony's volunteer opportunities, call 618-465-4567.