Shepherd Center's Coordinator of Volunteer Services Reflects on What Makes Shepherd Center Volunteers Special
Shepherd Center volunteers helps patients, families and staff in many ways.
By Alaina Case
Coordinator, Volunteer Services
National Volunteer Week was established by President Richard Nixon in 1974 to honor the efforts of volunteers. Since then, this celebration has grown and changed its meaning to not only honor volunteers, but to also encourage others to get out and volunteer in their communities. Every April, organizations around the world recognize volunteers and foster a culture of service.
For the past two years, in my role as the coordinator of volunteer services, I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with the most selfless individuals. My profession has allowed me to meet and interact with a plethora of volunteers, some who have a connection to Shepherd Center and others who just want to help in any way they can. Our volunteers range from ages 15 to 90, both men and women, of different ethnicities, nationalities, religions and interests. You can imagine the different personalities we encounter while working with such a vast demographic, but it says a lot about our rehabilitation center when we’re able to find a good fit for all our volunteers.
A few examples of the important ways volunteers contribute to Shepherd Center include gym runner volunteers who provide ongoing gym and program support by assisting in the gyms during therapy sessions, meal feeder volunteers who assist patients with their meals, fitness buddy volunteers who aid ProMotion members during work out/fitness sessions, and Family Support Services volunteers who provide help to families of inpatients by getting acclimated to Shepherd Center when they first arrive. Shepherd Center would not be able to provide such quality service to our patients and clients without the support we receive from our volunteers.
I asked a few volunteers to share what their favorite thing is about volunteering at Shepherd Center, and below are the touching responses I received.
- Laura Barnard (sports teams and horticulture): “My favorite thing about volunteering at Shepherd Center is the people I’ve met and the friendships that have formed. I love what I do!”
- Helene DeLoach (Family Support Services visitation/driver/mail): “I love everything I do at Shepherd Center! I look forward to volunteering each week.”
- Stanis McKinney (gym runner): “I enjoy helping patients and staff, they’re the nicest people I have ever known.”
- Tom Leahy (ABI Peer Visitor): “The best part of volunteering at Shepherd Center are the people and the positive energy that everyone displays.”
- Jean O’Halloran (locomotor assistant): “I love the sense of community and seeing many patients improving over their therapy time.”
- Emily Brunson (gym runner and meal feeder): “It’s great working with the therapists and patients. I love taking part in and observing various therapy sessions.”
- Liz Bell (ABI Peer Visitor): “I’m grateful to give inspiration to caregivers and family members of traumatic brain injury patients.”
- Frances O’Brien (Assistive Technology): “I enjoy the feeling I get when helping others in an environment that is positive and professional.”
Our volunteers bring hope and happiness to their roles which also leads to spiritual and emotional growth for our patients, families and staff. The unconditional support we receive from our volunteers cannot be bought with any amount of money. We appreciate you, thank you!
Learn more about volunteering at Shepherd Center here.
ALAINA CASE is coordinator of volunteer services at Shepherd Center.
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 900 inpatients, 575 day program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year.