It’s National Volunteer Week! Celebrating Michigan Medicine volunteers

April 21, 2021  //  FOUND IN: News

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Michigan Medicine has a long-standing tradition of volunteerism. In 1941, the first formal volunteer program began with 55 townspeople and 140 students providing care to patients and augmenting the work of the “Old Main” Hospital staff. It was there that Volunteer Services, a program of the Community Health Services department, first came to be.

The mission of Volunteer Services is to promote the philosophy of caring for patients and families by providing volunteers to augment the work of Michigan Medicine faculty and staff. In addition, Volunteer Services staff nurture the educational and career aspirations and provide opportunities for student volunteers, and provide meaningful and fulfilling activities for retired and older adult volunteers.

“Our volunteers are such special people, supportive of our patients, families and caregiver teams,” said Tony Denton, senior vice president and chief operating officer for the U-M Health System. “I am so proud of the time and talent that our volunteers commit to bring service and joy to all whom they meet.  We would not be who we are without our special team of volunteers, real treasures in providing community service across our health system.”

Volunteers support services and programs all over the Michigan Medicine campus, including C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital, the Rogel Cancer Center, the Frankel Cardiovascular Center and the Ronald McDonald House.

Volunteer opportunities are not limited to the main hospital campus.

The medical campus has expanded to include: East Ann Arbor Health and Geriatrics Center, the Michigan Surgical Center, the Rachel Upjohn Building, clinics at Domino’s Farms and even health centers throughout southeast Michigan. Volunteers also assist community outreach programs including the FRIENDS Gift Shops, the Housing Bureau for Seniors, Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels and the Turner Senior Resource Center.

Volunteer Services would like to thank all of the volunteers who have supported patients, families and care providers throughout its 80-year history. U-M students, as well as students from other institutions, community members and even teens, comprise a corps of more than 2,500 volunteers providing invaluable service to Michigan Medicine.

Clearly much has changed, but one tradition stands strong — our volunteers!

To celebrate National Volunteer Week, here is testimony from Abid Sandela, a spiritual care volunteer:

Abid Sandela

“I always wanted to pay back to the community which has given me and my family so much for almost 30 years.  And I feel blessed, especially now that my daughter became a Wolverine last fall. The fulfilling feelings of giving back and contributing to society is unparalleled. Giving back to the place I call home helps to unite the community and bridge some of the social, economic and political gaps.

I expected to help people to try and ease their pain and stress during their stay here. But I got more than that. Just talking to some of the people, patients and staff, I realized that I was helping myself as well. Not just physically, but mentally too.

You feel a sense of accomplishment when someone tells you ‘You’ve made my day,’ or simply ‘Thank you.’

Every day that I’m here, I take back something that helps me to improve as a person. I learned a lot from people — young and old — and made connections with some very wonderful friends. This opportunity has enabled me to effect positive social change from the premise that individuals can change the world.

Growing up we were told that there are 70,000 angels that accompany you when you go and visit a sick person. They say the same exact thing when you pray for the wellbeing and happiness of others. In the future I hope to keep getting this blessing.

So thank you again for the opportunity to volunteer here. We volunteers sometimes don’t have the time, as some of my logs will show you, but we have a big heart. In the end, I’ll leave you with a quote from Mr. Rogers:

‘All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors — in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.’

Check out the video below, which serves a tribute to Michigan Medicine volunteers!