Driven and devoted: Celebrating volunteers at Michigan Medicine

April 18, 2018  //  FOUND IN: News,

Volunteers serve in all areas of Michigan Medicine, including patient floors, waiting rooms and research labs.

At any given moment, there are more than 2,000 active volunteers at Michigan Medicine — individuals driven to donate both their time and energy toward making an impact at the academic medical center.

Every volunteer spends 2-4 hours a week interacting directly with patients and families or helping faculty and staff carry out outstanding patient care, education and research.

“Our volunteers honor us with their time and passion for carrying out our mission,” said Tony Denton, senior vice president and chief operating officer for the U-M Health System. “All of us in Michigan Medicine thank them for the services they provide that truly make this a special place for caring, compassion and teamwork.”

In honor of National Volunteer Week, Headlines is highlighting just a few of these dedicated men and women, learning what inspires them to come to Michigan Medicine and leave their mark on the organization.

Here’s what they had to say:

Georgia Gleason, Rogel Cancer Center

Believe it or not, I volunteer as a weaver at the Rogel Cancer Center. I first began volunteering here through pure serendipity. I had recently retired and, as a weaver, I was looking forward to having more time to myself to practice my craft.

At the same time, however, a proposed weaving project in the Art Therapy Department had been put on hold because the weaver realized that his health would not allow him to continue. He contacted a friend of mine in the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild, who reached out to find another individual willing to come to Michigan Medicine. I immediately said ‘yes!’ because I realized I could do good — and weave too.

Since then, the program has taken off. We now have three looms, seven weavers and a hat maker. We weave to entertain and distract friends and family in a waiting room at the Rogel Cancer Center. The material we weave is made into hats, which we then give to the patients (we have probably given away about 3,000 hats over the years). The patients are pleased, their loved ones are delighted and we get to bask in the glow.

I truly can’t see myself doing anything else!

Brandon Coy, University Hospital

I’m a pre-med student at U-M and hope to eventually become a physician. While I know that I will contribute to medicine as a doctor down the road, volunteering here is a way I can contribute now.

I do a lot of behind-the-scenes work in terms of stocking. For example, I usually stock exam gloves, which are in the patient rooms, so I get to talk to a lot of patients and families and greet visitors in each room.

While the actual work may not be exciting, I recognize that it’s work that really needs to be done and contributes to the whole health system functioning smoothly. At the same time, it gives me the ability to talk with patients, listen to their stories and hear what they have to say. Sometimes they just want someone to talk to. I think that’s really exciting and rewarding part of volunteering, especially right here at Michigan Medicine.

Ann Brill, NICU, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital

I have always been in awe of Michigan Medicine, but I really had no idea that their Volunteer Services Department was such an active part of the system. 

My experience volunteering here came about from a conversation with a friend who was already donating time to the organization. Back in 2014, I had retired from teaching after 33 years at the elementary level and I had wanted to do more volunteering. So when my friend talked about her experience in the NICU, I knew it was the place for me.

Over the past three years, it has been a gift to be able to comfort babies, talk to family members and nurses, and help with organizational tasks that benefit everyone. Every Monday as I enter the hospital to start my shift, I am energized by all the people moving throughout the halls. From health care providers to administrative staff to ancillary staff to students, patients, visitors and volunteers, the hospital is a dynamic place to be and I wear my red volunteer badge proudly!

Do you or someone you know want to volunteer at Michigan Medicine? Click here or email for more information!