When patients come to AdventHealth Shawnee Mission in Overland Park, Kansas, United States, the first people they may see are the volunteers who greet them at the door. This year, the Seventh-day Adventist hospital volunteers were met with applause and messages of thanks from AdventHealth team members in a drive-by celebration in recognition for their service to the health-care institution.
AdventHealth Shawnee Mission team members stood outside the hospital to hold signs and cheer for volunteers during the event. Nearly 300 volunteers drove in a parade of approximately 150 cars during the August 2020 event. Volunteers received awards, a small gift, and a Fairway Creamery ice cream treat.
Friends from the community dressed in costumes to entertain the attendees. Two dinosaurs and a cowboy on an inflatable horse greeted the volunteers as they drove by, and a judge in a giant chair presided over the event.
Volunteers have been making a difference at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission since the program began in 1961. Shirley Hayes, the first volunteer, was involved with the hospital until she passed away in early 2012. Today, an average of 600 people volunteer at AdventHealth each year. This includes volunteers in the junior program (ages 14-18) and the adult program (ages 19 and up).
In 2019, a total of 642 adult and junior volunteers served at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, contributing 101,513 hours of their time.
“Our volunteers are indispensable to our organization,” Peggy Todd, manager of Volunteer Services at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, said at the event. “We are so thankful for the time they give and the unique talents and skills they bring to the hospital.”
Volunteers come from a wide variety of backgrounds — former and retired associates, previous patients, visitors, and community members looking to get involved. By interacting with patients and our community, volunteers help provide the personal connections important to overall health.
The focus of AdventHealth Shawnee Mission is on whole-person health is based on CREATION Health principles, according to hospital representatives. The “I” in CREATION refers to Interpersonal Relationships, including the connections with family, friends, and others. These connections with other people can affect physical, mental, and spiritual health.
“Our volunteer program definitely ties in with the CREATION Health principles,” Todd said. “Staying in contact and building relationships with others enriches your social and emotional life. It improves social health and life expectancy.”
This year’s Adult Volunteer of the Year was Jodie Blackburn, and Vedha Penmatcha was named Junior Volunteer of the Year.
“I am beyond thankful for everything AdventHealth has brought me over the years,” Blackburn said. “I’ve had the opportunity to make beautiful friendships, and I thoroughly enjoy being a volunteer in such a wonderful and uplifting atmosphere.”
“Volunteering at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission has allowed me to help people in a hospital, a place I would like to work in the future,” Penmatcha said. “It has also given me the opportunity to gain real-world exposure to how a hospital works and the different ways I can interact with patients or patients’ relatives and friends.”