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Volunteering Has a Special Place in Jackie’s Heart

Apr 18 2022

Meet Jackie Dwyer, one of our Bon Secours volunteers! Volunteers are the heartbeat of our hospitals by assisting us as we serve our patients. Thus, we cannot thank all our volunteers enough for the wonderful work they do.

In honor of National Volunteer Week, we wanted to give you a behind-the-scenes look at what it is like to volunteer with our ministry. See all of Jackie’s great answers below.

Q: How did you get involved in volunteering at Bon Secours?    

A: When our daughter was a junior in high school, she wanted to get her service hours required for graduation by volunteering in general services at Bon Secours – St. Mary’s Hospital. She was inspired by her grandfather (my late father-in-law), Jim Dwyer, who was a volunteer of many years in many different service areas.

Around that time, I saw a notice in our church bulletin that the hospital needed more eucharistic ministers to take communion to the Catholic patients. So, I called the chaplain listed to see if my being there once or twice a month on the weekend would be enough. I still worked full-time and did not have much free time, but I felt called to serve in the hospital that meant so much to my family. Luckily for me he accepted my limited availability, and the rest is history.

Q: What is your favorite thing about being a volunteer?

A: Volunteering provides me the opportunity to put my faith into action. It also gives a lot of meaning to my life now that I am retired.

As my career wound down, I spent more days over at the hospital serving as a eucharistic minister. Soon after I retired completely, I saw an email about a new program that the pastoral care office was offering to train volunteers to be spiritual care partners. Now, as a spiritual care partner, I help the chaplains by visiting patients of all faith backgrounds, listening to those who may be lonely, scared, worried or who just need to talk. Through us, more patients learn about the availability of the chaplains. We also refer patients who are in distress to the chaplains.

After COVID-19 started winding down and volunteers were allowed to return to the hospital but not go back yet into patient rooms, I started making calls for the forensic nurses to former patients to gather feedback on their experience with the hospital’s violence intervention program. This data is used to help improve the program and to apply for grants to help the program continue.

Because I am fluent in Spanish, a few years ago I took the course Bon Secours offered to be able to serve as an interpreter while in the hospital. So, wherever I am in the hospital if I hear Spanish being spoken, I am happy to use my language skills to facilitate communication between team members and our Spanish-speaking patients.

I honestly cannot tell you which of these things is my favorite; I enjoy everything I do at the hospital! But anytime I am with someone who is upset and I can help in any way, I feel gratified. Helping vulnerable patients in the underserved community has a special place in my heart.

Q: You also sit on a few committees. Which committee do you enjoy volunteering in most?

A: I have served on the Volunteer Auxiliary Board since 2015 and am currently the immediate past president. This year, I am on five of the eight standing committees of the board, including the chair of two of them, and I currently am on one ad hoc committee that is working on standard operating procedures for all the committees.

My favorite is the Sister Mary Monica Good Samaritan Fund Committee, which I presently chair, because it provides compression garments for patients in the lymphedema clinic. These are patients who could not otherwise afford them. We also review requests for funding from care management to help patients in financial need have a safe discharge from the hospital. This includes paying for things like transportation home, medicine or oxygen needed for when they first get home.

Q: What has kept you coming back after volunteering for over 20 years?

A: I enjoy going to the hospital to volunteer even more now than when I first started! I have more time now that I am retired. Having the opportunities to add new roles and serve on the auxiliary board has challenged me and allowed me to continue learning. I also always feel what I’m doing is something worthwhile.

Additionally, I’m a 25-plus year cancer survivor who still occasionally experiences health flareups as a side effect of chemo and radiation therapy from long ago. So, I say that I’m so thankful to be at St. Mary’s wearing a blue uniform jacket, not a blue hospital gown.

Q: What is something you want others to know about volunteering with Bon Secours?

A: No matter what your skill set or how much time you have, making time to volunteer for Bon Secours will be one of the most rewarding things you can do with your life.

Learn more about the volunteer opportunities we have at Bon Secours.

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