Blount Memorial volunteers log thousands of hours
From Staff Reports
Their contribution is invaluable, their desire to serve is undeniable, and, on Monday, their commitment was honored.
The Blount Memorial Auxiliary held its annual awards banquet at the Knoxville Airport Hilton, recognizing about 120 hospital volunteers for their many hours of service to the hospital and its patients.
“The volunteers are the community,” said Volunteer Services director Connie Slingluff. “They are here for this community, and they are here for Blount Memorial.”
Each year, honorees are presented awards for the individual hours they spend working with the hospital and its facilities. This year, some received acknowledgements for working 50 hours, while others have, over the course of many years, accumulated several thousand hours.
Juanita Hammontree, 89, obtained the highest honor of the day for her grand total of 24,500 volunteer hours.
“I love people. I love to help people. I love to be with people, so that’s why I love to volunteer,” Hammontree said. “A lot of times, I work two shifts a day.”
Monday’s award recipients were met by Blount Memorial Hospital CEO Don Heinemann and hospital board president Robert Redwine.
“I’d say probably 50 percent of the people we handed awards to thanked us for the opportunity to be involved here at the hospital. I was really impressed with that,” Redwine said. “They’re a part of the fabric of the hospital, and we couldn’t do without that group.
“When you look at a typical year, it’s about 50,000 hours contributed. When you calculate that out, that’s 25 full-time employees that we’d have to hire, and these folks willingly come up and do it without pay. It’s amazing to me,” he added.
“When it seems like society is focused on getting more, spending more and achieving more, it helps to think about the importance of volunteerism,” Slingluff said. “It can get people to think beyond themselves and focus on the needs of others,” she added.
Volunteers are a crucial part of the Blount Memorial team. The 250-member organization performs such tasks as providing extra services to patients, promoting community relations and even providing funds.
Every cent raised by the Auxiliary through vending machine sales, fundraisers and sales at the hospital gift shop, goes right back to the hospital or its entities. This year alone, the Auxiliary donated more than $100,000 to the hospital from its efforts, and another $1,200 was designated to the Blount Memorial Foundation’s Connie Davis Hospice Mercy Fund.
The Auxiliary also worked this year to improve conditions for patients by adding a family room to the emergency department, new chairs for patient rooms and sleeping chairs for family members.