Sparks Health System recognized more than 30 of its volunteers during a luncheon Tuesday as part of National Volunteer Week. President Richard Nixon established National Volunteer Week with an executive order in 1974, as a way to recognize and celebrate the efforts of volunteers.
Last year the group volunteered 15,482 hours which is a savings of nearly $343,000, according to Toni Holohan, Volunteer Services Manager. “Our volunteers have a servant’s heart and always wants to give,” Holohan said. “They don’t always think of themselves.”
Volunteer Beverly Meadows has been with Sparks more than 50 years. To honor her work, she was given a gift certificate for a custom fishing rod to help her enjoy another favorite hobby.
Sparks has 55 volunteers who help with various duties such as providing information at the front desk, serving as hostesses in the surgery and ICU waiting rooms, chaplain services and “baby cuddlers” in the NICU and pediatric units.
Our “baby cuddlers” provide non-clinical support to nursing staff, such as folding laundry, sanitizing baby toys, stocking bottles and formula, changing diapers and holding the infants. These volunteers must meet certain health requirements and pass a drug screening and background check.
“When researching the program, I read an article in which doctors said cuddling leads to better tolerance of pain, more stable body temperature and even stronger vital signs,” Holohan said. “That’s been the case for many babies at the hospital and the volunteers also enjoy it.”
Each “cuddler” leaves a note for the infant’s parent to provide an update about their child’s day and time during the volunteer’s care.
Sparks also has 60 auxiliary members who provide various services to Jennifer’s Gift Shop and the This ‘N That Thrift Shop on Dodson Avenue.
New positions open daily. The majority of volunteers are 18 and older, however, there is also a group of “volunteens,” ages 14-17, called “Caring Teens.” Anyone interested in a summer volunteer position should contact Toni Holohan, Volunteer Services Manager, at (479) 441-5555 or email email@example.com