U-M Health System volunteers recognized for community commitment

April 14, 2015  //  FOUND IN: Announcements, Our Employees,

On Monday, April 13, UMHS volunteers celebrated and were recognized for their time and service given to support patients, families and others throughout the year.


Karen Stern, East Ann Arbor Gift Shop

“Our dedicated volunteers give their time and effort every day to others in need,” said Tony Denton, acting chief executive officer and chief operating officer, UMHHC. “It’s with great pride that we honor this special team of individuals who step up to selflessly provide for others.”

In 2014, more than 2,300 employees from our health system, as well as students and members of the community, participated in volunteer efforts. UMHS volunteers clocked in a total of 150,811 hours— the equivalent of 72 full-time employees providing a total of $3,468,653 of valued service support.

UMHS volunteers serve all over our institution and participate in dozens of programs. Here are just two volunteer programs that were highlighted this year for outstanding efforts:

The Friends Gift Shop is a volunteer-staffed, non-profit organization that administers and manages four UMHS Gift Shops. Revenue generated from these shops provides funds for patient programs and educational projects. Since 1959, this program has helped promote the health, welfare and education of our community.

Friends has seven permanent staff members and more than 50 volunteers. The gift shops are open to the public, but more than 65% of their customers are UMHS employees. Dedicated volunteers at the shops are essential to their successful operation. Current shop volunteers include 45 members from the local community who have volunteered 425 years collectively.

In 2014, the shops generated more than $2 million in revenue and are on pace to exceed $2.4 million in 2015. Those funds are dispersed to interested health system groups who have applied for grant funding. Recent recipients include North Star Reach camp for kids with illnesses ($100,000), the Trail’s Edge Camp for Ventilator Dependent Children ($30,000), the U-M Depression Center ($25,000), and the Silver Club Memory Programs ($5,500).


David Lieber and Bailey (Therapaws Team)

Therapaws of Michigan -Therapy Dog Volunteer Teams: For more than 26 years, Therapaws of Michigan has provided volunteers who bring their certified therapy dogs to visit UMHS patients.

In 2014, 24 teams volunteered more than 1,128 hours in University Hospital, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, the Frankel Cardiovascular Center, and other UMHS facilities and clinics. The teams average 43 visits each week and the numbers are growing thanks to Therapaws’ ongoing recruiting, training and testing efforts.

Therapaws’ mission to promote and foster the human-animal bond in therapeutic and educational settings can be measured by the healing, stress reduction and distraction the program offers our patients, and the smiles it brings with every visit. These visits offer social, emotional and physical benefits, thereby achieving the organization’s goals to “facilitate healing and provide emotional and social support for those who are hospitalized.”

There are many examples of the tremendous benefits Therapaws brings to UMHS, but here are just a few:

  • A three-legged therapy dog attends U-M Amputee Support Group meetings – a welcome addition to the meeting by all who attend.
  • As a special request from the Burn Unit staff, a therapy dog was brought into the lobby so a child who was missing his own dog could visit and pet therapy dog Draper. Draper was so tall and gentle it was easy for the child to see and touch him from his wheel chair.

Please thank our volunteers for their tremendous service every year.