It’s National Volunteer Week: Honoring those who strengthen the Michigan Medicine community

April 18, 2022  //  FOUND IN: News,

National Volunteer Week was established in 1974 to honor the impact of volunteer service around the country and acknowledge the power that volunteers have to strengthen and transform their communities.

Celebrated this year from April 17-23, National Volunteer Week presents an annual opportunity for organizations to recognize the individuals who support them year-round through contributions of time, talent and expertise. Their stories drive momentum for necessary change and inspire others to take action in their communities.

A long-time tradition

Volunteerism has been a tradition at Michigan Medicine since 1941, when then-hospital director Harley Haynes sought to build a program to supplement staff resources depleted by World War II.

Beginning with just under 200 individuals at the “Old Main” hospital, the volunteer program at Michigan Medicine grew over the next 80 years to more than 2,000 volunteers who augment the work of faculty and staff across the entire organization.

From the main hospital campus to clinics and health centers around the region, Michigan Medicine volunteers provide direct support for patients, families, and care providers. They also support research labs, assist with clerical tasks, and help in the delivery of community outreach programs such as Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels, the Turner Senior Resource Center and FRIENDS Gift Shops.

Volunteers lend their voices and share their experiences as patient advisors, peer mentors and advisory councils for the Office of Patient Experience and the FRIENDS Advisory Board. And they provide support for non-clinical therapies including Gifts of Art and Healing Butterfly Garden.

“Michigan Medicine couldn’t do everything it does for patients, families and the research and educational communities without the support of our volunteers,” said Anginique Spence, assistant director of Community Health Services and director of the Regional Alliance for Healthy Schools. “We’re so proud of the efforts they put in each and every day.”

A pause for the pandemic

At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteer service at Michigan Medicine ground to a halt as treatments, programs and services adapted to meet the evolving needs and restrictions brought on by the global health crisis.

Over the past two years, only a limited number of volunteers were able to return in support of immediate, essential needs such as assembling COVID-19 test kits, assisting at vaccination clinics, delivering meals and providing critical support for patient care. Some volunteers resumed service virtually from home, assisting research labs and engaging patients as advisors and mentors.

“During this time, we never lost sight of the support our entire volunteer corps brings to the Michigan Medicine community,” said Phil Rivera, director of Volunteer Services.

Recognizing our volunteers

While the organization was unable to gather this year for traditional annual volunteer recognition events, Michigan Medicine continues to celebrate all of its volunteers, past and present, for their enduring commitment to the mission of “advancing health to serve Michigan and the world.”

Through visual recognition on banners and video screens around the hospital campus to individual moments of appreciation at various program sites, Volunteer Services and its many program partners express collective gratitude for all that Michigan Medicine volunteers do in support of the community.

As pandemic restrictions progressively ease, Volunteer Services continues to bring back more returning volunteers and looks forward to resuming new volunteer recruitment later this spring.

Please visit the Volunteer Services website for the ongoing updates on volunteering at Michigan Medicine.

Recently, Headlines sat down with a few of the organization’s volunteers to find out why they volunteer their time and what they find most gratifying about their time at Michigan Medicine. Click here to see what they had to say!