Volunteers Keep Active by Serving & Connecting to Their Community

Volunteers play an important role for ThedaCare in the Fox Cities.

At ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Appleton, volunteers are stationed at the west entrance, main entrance, outpatient surgery, Soliel Coffee Shop, Gift Shop and Chandler Waiting Room, as well as other locations. Volunteers also are stationed at the Endoscopy Desk at Encircle Health and at the ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center.

Marlene (left) and Millie are among 300 dedicated volunteers who serve at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Appleton.

At the west entrance, they greet patients and visitors to the hospital, provide directions, deliver flowers to patient rooms, answer phones, deliver specimens to the lab and deliver mail to some of the departments. Volunteers stationed at the main entrance where central registration is located perform many of the same duties as at the west entrance, plus they are very busy escorting patients and visitors to various areas of the campus and providing wheelchairs.

Joni Conrad, volunteer services program coordinator at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Appleton, said volunteers want to give back for a variety of reasons.

“Many of the volunteers at ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center have a desire to volunteer at that location for a variety of reasons. Some of them may have been affected by cancer themselves, or lost a family member to cancer,” she said. “They feel so grateful to have been helped by the volunteers that they want to give back.”

She said volunteers not only help people, but find that it is an opportunity for them to socialize and build relationships with each other and the staff within the departments they support.

“Some of the volunteers have been volunteering together for 10, 15 and 20 years,” she said. “They have become lifelong friends.”

Conrad points out that volunteers not only serve at the hospital, but throughout the community.

“Most of our volunteer roles are for a half-day, once a week,” she said. “These are really active people, so in addition to the hospital, they also volunteer at food pantries, their churches and for reading programs at their local schools. Some of these people volunteer every day of the week throughout the community.”

Brooke Techlin, volunteer services program coordinator at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah, said volunteers find it rewarding to make connections with others and to make a difference. Volunteers serve at a variety of areas, including the information desk, cancer care clinic, Gift Gallery, Java Junction Coffee Shop and the ICU waiting room.

Among the 250 dedicated volunteers who serve at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah are (back row, from left) Peter, Andrew, Blake and Jim and (front row, from left) Pat and Jan.

Three volunteers also are stationed at the main entrance. One volunteer is at the desk to greet patients and visitors and answer questions. The other two volunteers are very active, escorting patients and visitors to their destinations within the hospital, providing wheelchairs, delivering lab specimens to the lab and assisting with errands.

“They could put on a couple of miles while they are here,” Techlin said.

Techlin said many volunteers choose to volunteer at the hospital because that is where their physician is located or their family or friends have been hospitalized there.

Conrad agrees. “Years  ago, this is where their babies were born, or they had a personal experience here. It’s their hospital. This is where they would come for services.”

Both hospitals have a volunteer board of directors that oversees and makes policies for the volunteers. In Neenah, the board raises money each year for scholarships that are given to five students going into the healthcare field.

The Neenah board also hosts Munch & Learn programs for volunteers. These informational sessions are held three or four times a year and feature a speaker on topics such as chair exercises, self-defense, smart phone usage, card making and stamping.

“We try to do things to engage the volunteers in different ways,” Techlin said. “Some of our volunteers work full time. It’s easier for them to get away during the lunch hour. So we tell them to bring a lunch or a snack and we provide beverages for them and they can sit for an hour and engage in their activity.”

In Appleton, the volunteer board also holds a variety of fundraisers, including the popular annual geranium sale coming up on May 16. The TCA volunteer organization raises funds and annually provides six $2,500 scholarships to students planning to enter the healthcare field and enroll in a Wisconsin school.

Brooke Techlin (left) is the volunteer services program coordinator in Neenah and Joni Conrad is the volunteer services program coordinator in Appleton.

 For more information on volunteering at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Appleton, contact Joni Conrad at 920-738-6269 or joni.conrad@thedacare.org.

To volunteer at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah, contact Brooke Techlin at 920-729-2207 or brooke.techlin@thedacare.org.