For those wanting to dedicate time and energy volunteering, both Carol Ann Morrison and Donna Pritchard, Freeman Volunteers, recommend Freeman Health System Cornell-Beshore Cancer Institute. Pritchard has been with the institute for two years, and Morrison for three (but has been volunteering at Freeman for more than 18 years!). Both women help patients receiving chemotherapy.
Morrison, who always wanted to be a nurse but spent her career in retail, says she finds fulfillment because this work is hands on and she can spend her time in service of the sick. “You build relationships,” she said. “Consequently, Donna and I, just this year, have attended three funerals and have done some house calls just because we have taken a close interest in these people.” Pritchard says her best memories from volunteering come from seeing patients and hearing them say, “Today’s my last day in chemo!” Although Morrison and Pritchard never wish to see anyone in chemotherapy, they enjoy seeing regulars because they have connected with the patients and become good friends.
Many people believe working or volunteering with patients receiving chemotherapy would be depressing and incredibly hard, but Pritchard and Morrison are amazed at how positive both patients and staff are at the facility. “You would think it would be a downer,” Pritchard said, “but they’re so optimistic.” Morrison believes the environment at the institute is enjoyable, and the people are friendly and genuine.
The work itself is “humbling, rewarding” said Pritchard. It makes her thankful for her own health. For Morrison, “Volunteering, giving and being of service – it’s first nature, not second nature.” The women have also found a community at Freeman. Many of the volunteers easily connect with one another because they have so much in common. The relationships, fulfillment and positivity come from “trying to give that smile, that kindness,” and they do so volunteering at Freeman Cornell-Beshore Cancer Institute.
Of course, as Morrison reminds us, volunteering in a chemotherapy center “isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.” Freeman volunteers can choose to work in many different locations. When asked how she likes the institute, Pritchard said, “I’m happy here.” She also believes that you should volunteer where you are comfortable, and finding a place where you enjoy offering your services is a central element of truly making a difference. For more information about volunteering at Freeman, contact Linda McIntosh at 417.347.4603.
About Linda McIntosh: As Freeman Health System Volunteer Services Program Manager, Linda McIntosh leads Freeman Auxiliary with responsibilities that include fundraising, program development, volunteer scheduling, recruitment, retention and training. McIntosh understands the importance of volunteering in the community, and ensures that volunteers are placed in positions that match their interests and where they can do the most good.