Volunteering comes in many forms
By McKenna Ownby and Kortney Scroger
For National Volunteer Week, we’re celebrating MultiCare volunteers and the special work they do for our patients and communities.
Christian Public Service
MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital
Many of the volunteers at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital are local people looking to give back to their community.
There’s one unique group of volunteers, though, who are far from home when they come in for their shifts every Tuesday and Wednesday.
Caleb Koehn and his family moved to Washington from Kansas in April 2018 to lead a one-year service project through the Christian Public Service organization. Caleb leads a handful of young men through various community service projects throughout the Seattle-Tacoma area. He, his wife and their two children live with the groups, which rotate every six months. They spend their days working together for one shared mission: to do good for others.
The group currently living with Caleb includes four volunteers who are all visiting from different parts of the country. Trent is from Kansas, Colby and Devern are from Mississippi, and Wyatt is from Iowa. They’re well known by patients and staff throughout the hospital. They help with everything from transporting patients in their hospital beds after surgery, to stocking equipment, to delivering mail and more.
“One of the things I like most is getting to help out in the rehabilitation center,” Trent says. “When a patient tries to stand up during a physical therapy session and I follow behind them with a wheelchair, I think it makes them feel better knowing I’m there to catch them if they fall.”
They all agree that volunteering is something everyone should try, especially for young adults.
“To some people it might seem like you’re not getting anything out of it because you’re not getting money to do it, but really, you get a lot in return in other ways,” says Devern. “You know you’re giving your time to people who need it.”
When Pat Mattoon moved to Puyallup in 2006, she was looking for a way to meet new people and make friends outside of her neighborhood.
She found both by becoming a MultiCare volunteer, and she’s been part of the team for the past 13 years.
Mattoon started out with Grannie’s Attic sorting and pricing items, and eventually became the lead for organizing all donated linens. Then she switched to volunteering in the Celebrate Seniority office where she answers phones, returns calls and helps take blood pressure for people who participate in Celebrate Seniority programs and activities.
Celebrate Seniority is a free membership program that supports successful aging of people “55 and better” through education, social activities and volunteer opportunities throughout Pierce County.
Mattoon also works on arts and crafts projects for the office, which are placed on patient lunch trays at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital to help brighten their days.
“It keeps me young, it keeps me busy and it keeps my mind active, which is very important,” Mattoon says.
She also loves the rewarding feeling she gets at the end of each shift.
“Every time I leave for the day, I’m always thanked for the time I spent here and I really feel appreciated,” Mattoon says.
For anyone who may be considering becoming a volunteer but hasn’t yet, Mattoon had this advice to offer: “Don’t think about it — just do it! You can think about it all you want but the longer you keep thinking, the more people there are that could use your help.”
MultiCare Allenmore Hospital and MultiCare Hospice
When Myra Trucco’s mother was in hospice care, her caretakers would often call to ask if their family was in need of respite or any other type of assistance — someone who could come to their home and spend time with their mother, giving the family a temporary break as her primary caregivers.
Through that experience, Trucco was inspired to become a hospice volunteer herself.
At the time she applied, no hospice positions were available, so she became a volunteer for the MultiCare Allenmore Hospital waiting room first. Later she became a hospice companion. She’s been giving her time and talents as a MultiCare volunteer for almost two years now.
“I have one hospice patient that I visit with twice a week for two hours,” she explains. “I’m there to give her my complete, undivided attention. It’s my job to be a calming presence and a sounding board for her, for whatever she needs on that particular day.”
Trucco also makes it a point to bring some of her patient’s favorite snacks when she visits, and sometimes flowers too.
“I do my best to brighten her day however I can,” she says.
When it comes to giving back, Trucco believes there’s power in numbers.
“I think we would be a better community, and a better country, if everyone took the time to give back in some way,” she says. “Even if all you can give is your time, know that it’s still going to help someone.”
MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital
When Barb Elder’s children got to the age where it “wasn’t cool” for their mom to volunteer at school anymore, she needed something new to fill her time. It couldn’t be just anything; she wanted to know that she was still making a difference in her community.
That’s when Elder applied to become a volunteer at MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital, and the rest is history. She has been a volunteer with the Good Samaritan gift shop for more than 25 years, where a portion of all proceeds goes toward supporting patient care. Elder makes sure everything is priced accurately in the gift shop, and she also assembles items as needed.
Through all her years of volunteering, Elder says her favorite thing has to be the people. She’s become good friends with many of the volunteers she works with, and she enjoys interacting with the hospital’s many visitors as they take a break from their day to browse the shop.
“People who volunteer tend to live longer, you know,” Elder says. “Giving back is rewarding and it’s good for you, too.”
Want to volunteer for MultiCare? Apply here.
Grannies’ Attic Thrift Store
Claudia Moore is known as the unofficial chef for Grannies’ Attic Thrift Store in Puyallup. When she comes in for her volunteer shifts, she brings a new delicacy for her fellow volunteers to try. Her inspiration comes from the used cookbooks she sorts for the store.
“I love to make food, especially baked goods,” Moore says. “I am always buying cookbooks from Grannies’.”
Her connection to Grannies’ Attic began long before she was a volunteer. The thrift store was a place for Moore and her daughter to spend time.
“Grannies’ was very close to my daughter’s bus stop,” Moore says. “Before the bus came, we would stop in, look around, and say hello to all of the friendly staff.”
She’s always loved the store and its friendly atmosphere, so about a year and a half ago she decided to become a volunteer.
“My favorite thing about volunteering is the people, both the customers and the volunteers,” Moore says. “We have regulars that come in to check out the new merchandise but also just to chat. Everyone needs someone to talk to. It makes me feel good — I really get a lot back.”
She also encourages people to donate items they no longer use to the store, if they aren’t able to volunteer.
“I encourage my friends and family to clean out their garages and donate to the store,” Moore explains. “The proceeds go to a really great cause, and it’s another good way to give back.”
MultiCare Auburn Medical Center
Sam Losoya has spent most of his career in hospitals.
“I have been working in hospitals most of my life,” he says. “I started as an emergency room tech and worked my way up to surgeon’s assistant.”
After working in different parts of the world (one of his favorite places was Athens, Greece), Losoya planted roots in Auburn. Three years ago, he began volunteering at the MultiCare Auburn Medical Center registration desk.
Losoya volunteers to give back to his community and as a way for him to socialize and stay mobile. He’s the first smiling face you see when you enter the hospital, and he is sure to make you laugh at least once during your visit.
“I volunteer because I think it’s something that is needed,” Losoya says. “I know if I had to go to the hospital, I would appreciate it if someone was there to greet me and to show me where I needed to be. People who are coming to the hospital already have something heavy on their mind. I am happy to help.”
Carole Christensen retired less than a year ago and was motivated by her daughter, a hospice nurse, to fill her newly acquired “free time” with volunteering.
“I am busier than I was when I was working,” Christensen says.
Since she began as a hospice volunteer, she’s been a companion to nine hospice patients.
“Volunteering has given me the opportunity to make new friends and to meet people I never would’ve met otherwise,” Christensen says.
She visits patients twice a week, providing respite care for family members as well as being an ear for patients who don’t have many visitors.
“A lot of families don’t want to talk about death, but the patients often do,” Christensen says. “I lend my ears to them. They teach me a lot.”
One of her favorite things to do is to sing with the people she visits.
“I volunteer to make someone smile who may not have many reasons to do so,” she says.
Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital
Victoria Terrill has ambitious goals for her future. The high school senior plans to become a pediatric surgeon, and she’s been preparing for that career in a unique way: she volunteers at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital.
“Ever since I was little, I knew I wanted to be a doctor and that I wanted to help kids,” Terrill explains. “First I did an internship through Mary Bridge Child Life and I loved everything about it. It only made sense for me to keep volunteering after that. It’s a really good way for me to see firsthand what it’s like to work with kids in the hospital, and I know having this experience now will help me later on.”
Terrill volunteers once a week for four hours, doing whatever she can to help the Mary Bridge inpatient unit and the Child Life Services team. Some days she goes room to room asking patients and their families if they need a book or a snack. Other days she plans activities to help keep patients happy and distracted from the medical reasons that brought them to the hospital.
“One of my favorite things to do is just playing with the kids — letting them still be kids as much as they can while they’re here,” Terrill says. “It’s amazing how resilient they can be.”
She encourages everyone to look for ways to volunteer, even if you don’t think you have the time.
“You never know when you’ll need help, so it’s important for people in the community to take care of each other,” Terrill says. “You’d be surprised how flexible it can be. Figure out a schedule that works for you and just start by asking. Giving a little bit of time is better than not giving at all.”
MultiCare Tacoma General Volunteer Services
Every person who volunteers for MultiCare wears a special name badge on a green lanyard to let others know they’re in our facilities to help.
Someone has the job of creating each and every one of those badges. That someone is Kate Drury.
Drury has been a MultiCare volunteer herself for the past 16 years. She comes in for her shift at the Tacoma General Volunteer Services office every Tuesday, where she creates 20-30 badges per week. She has also volunteered at MultiCare Allenmore Hospital.
“It’s important to me to help others in the community, and to help the other volunteers too,” Drury says. “That’s what I like to do, so I keep doing it.”
It makes her especially happy when she walks around the hospital and sees her fellow volunteers wearing the badges she put together.
“Someone has to be the one to do it!” Kate jokes. “I’m happy it’s me.”
Want to volunteer for MultiCare? Apply here.