ELKIN — Members of the 2014 Hugh Chatham Leadership class got a sneak preview of the upcoming Wine Auction last week and learned about the valuable services of hospital volunteers.
The group, comprised of area residents and community leaders, meets monthly at the hospital to learn about the various programs offered at Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital. At last week’s presentation, Jeannette Hendrick and Patricia Wagoner shared details about the Hugh Chatham Foundation, the many volunteers who work at the hospital to create a positive experience for patients and their families and the upcoming annual Wine Auction.
CEO Paul Hammes welcomed the group and shared a personal story of how his career in health care stemmed from watching his mother volunteer at a hospital when he was a child.
Hammes recalled a second-grade classmate of his who had to be hospitalized for pneumonia and Hammes’ mother visited him while he was in the hospital. Hammes said he didn’t remember the exact words his friend said but that he told him about his mother’s visit and how much it meant to him.
“It was very powerful and impactful,” Hammes said. “I could tell that a point when he felt very, very frightened and very, very vulnerable, that my mother provided a sense of comfort to him and that’s really an important part of what our volunteers do every day and we appreciate all that they do.”
The hospital auxiliary volunteer group was established 62 years ago and Hammes said the group now has 250 volunteers that logged a total of 25,000 volunteer hours last year.
“Imagine the difference that makes to the community and the patients and families that come here at a time when they may be very scared and very vulnerable and needing some help. Sometimes it’s just the small touches they provide that mean so much,” Hammes said.
Hand-knitted prayer shawls, baby caps and hats for chemo patients are just a few of the things that hospital volunteers do. The volunteers also work in the on-site hospital gift shop and the hospital thrift shop, located at 103 W. Main St. in Elkin. Volunteers work at the information desk, in the ER, outpatient surgery department and make visits to check on patients in their rooms.
Wagoner works to recruit volunteers for the hospital and helps to assign volunteers to a project. She said the group has come a long way since she started. She has seen the number of volunteers grow from 15 or 20 to more than 200.
“I come to work every day and get to work with the best group of people in the world, hands down,” Wagoner said. “Who better to work with than volunteers who want to make this hospital and this community a better place and that’s what they do every day whether it’s pushing a patient in with a wheelchair or just a friendly smile. Nobody wants to be at the hospital and sometimes just a warm face, a warm smile will make the day better.”
Hendrick explained to the group about the many fundraising projects that the Hugh Chatham Foundation facilitates. She reminded the group that the hospital is a non-profit organization, something she said is quite a shock to newcomers to the area, but a fact of which she and the hospital staff are very proud.
In addition to large scale events like an annual golf tournament and the upcoming wine auction, funds for hospital programming, new equipment and more are raised through various donations. Hendrick said that donations in memory or honor of a loved one are the most popular form of donation.
On the third floor of the hospital is a flower mural painted by artist Sally Park. Donors may have the name of their baby or other loved one added to the mural. Hendrick recalled a woman who wanted to have her baby’s name added to the mural even though she had given birth at another hospital.
“It’s always a great day in our office,” Hendrick said. “There’s always something that just makes you smile and you leave here knowing you’ve done some good work for someone and that makes us all feel good.”
The upcoming fundraising event for the Hugh Chatham Foundation will be the 10th annual Yadkin Valley Wine Auction, scheduled for May 16 at the Liberty in downtown Elkin. This event has become a traditional kick-off event to the Yadkin Valley Wine Festival held annually to celebrate and showcase area wineries.
Hendrick said that the response to the auction, particularly in terms of the donations that come in from local artists and other citizens wishing to give back, really validates what the hospital means to the community.
“It’s so interesting that people have somehow connected with either our mission or by growing up or their parents retired here and they just really appreciate the healthcare that is provided here,” she said. “It makes the community feel good.”
Tickets for the auction are $50 per person, for an additional $100, guests can reserve their own table. There were 350 guests at last year’s event and Hendrick expects around the same number for this year.
“It’s a huge event for us,” she said. “And the Liberty is a great facility for the auction. It showcases all the gifts from artists. We have great talent in the Yadkin Valley.”
There will be about 60 items each in a live and a silent auction. Donations so far include a trip to St. Johns, a wine cooler, mountain trips, beach trips, massage sessions, a mirror from Aaron’s Sales and Lease, a double magnum from Shelton Vineyards, Kamado Joe grill from G&B Energy, pottery by Johnny Pardue and Aaron Blackwelder and a gumoil print by Erik Dahlager. Draw down tickets also will be available for $100 for a chance to win a four-day, three-night Royal Caribbean Cruise.
To purchase tickets for the auction or to donate, contact Jeannette Hendrick at 527-7457.
Kitsey E. Burns can be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.