Volunteer Profile – Bart Marks
For patients, Shepherd Center provides hope and healing. For employees, Shepherd provides professional fulfillment. And for volunteer Bart Marks, Shepherd provides perspective – and a sense of family.
Originally from Jacksonville, Fla., Bart came to Atlanta in 1963 and worked in real estate until retiring in 2000. Toward the end of his career, in a desire to give back and find new ways to occupy his time post-retirement, he began volunteering.
Bart first volunteered at Project Open Hand, where he delivered meals to those in need until scoliosis prevented him from doing so. He then volunteered at Living Room, which finds affordable housing for homeless individuals living with HIV/AIDS.
After Living Room brought many of its volunteer positions in-house, Bart found himself looking for a new volunteer project. And, thanks to a local interview program, in which two women were discussing volunteering at Shepherd Center, Bart discovered his next opportunity – one that came just when he needed it, when his scoliosis had become more debilitating.
“Shepherd puts everything in perspective,” Bart says. “It has made it possible for me to handle my condition, and the pain that comes with it, with a certain amount of grace that I have learned from the wonderful patients at Shepherd.”
Since coming to Shepherd Center, Bart has volunteered in numerous capacities and has shown such dedication that he received the 2012 Spirit of Excellence Award from the Shepherd Center Auxiliary, a volunteer group whose primary mission is fundraising for the hospital.
In addition to feeding and talking with patients, Bart has assisted Family Support Services in providing aid to patients and families, whether it is answering questions about the hospital or helping with directions, local transportation or other non-medical needs.
Bart has also served as treasurer of the Auxiliary and currently helps sell pecans during the group’s annual Pecans on Peachtree fundraiser. As if these activities were not enough, Bart also co-chairs the Auxiliary’s Special Mailing Committee, which sends out thousands of brochures each year promoting the hospital’s many fundraisers.
Volunteering at the welcome desk (at the parking deck entrance) each Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, however, has been one of Bart’s most fulfilling volunteer positions at Shepherd – something that surprised him.
“When I was first asked to serve at the welcome desk, it seemed like the least important job I’d ever done at Shepherd,” Bart says. “But I was dead wrong. It is a very important job because it is the first, and sometimes the last, impression many have of this marvelous institution.”
As much as Bart has given to Shepherd Center, he believes the hospital has given much to him, especially during Christmas. Bart looks forward to serving patients and families dinner each Christmas and, because his own family is scattered around the country, he feels as though Shepherd is his family that day.
And those at Shepherd feel the same way about Bart. “Bart is just a great advocate for Shepherd Center,” says Midge Tracy, director of Volunteer Services. “He loves his volunteer work, and we love having him here.”
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 neurological 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 740 inpatients, nearly 280 day program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year in more than 46,000 visits.