Little Old Lady … Unpacking
by Barbara Ardis | May 10, 2018 5:59 am
Last Updated: May 10, 2018 at 9:08 am
I am sitting here at my desk unpacking. I haven’t been anywhere, but I have a tote bag to unpack.
You see, after 25 years, I have resigned as a volunteer at McLeod Health Clarendon hospital. Surprisingly, my tote is only filled with a surplus of pencils, some blue ink pens, a plaque of friendship and a stapler. Not much for all this time. After 25 years, I received a certificate at the Volunteer Annual Luncheon showing that I have given 9,500 hours of service.
I decided to work that out mathematically and 9,500 hours, divided by a 40 hour work- week equals 237 weeks. And 237 weeks divided by a 52-week year equals 4.6 years. That is how much time I have spent in those wonderful halls. Four and a half years as a gift to myself, because I received much more than I gave.
I told the volunteers gathered at that last luncheon I shall attend, that I had had the pleasure of working all over the hospital where there were needs. From a desk in Radiology to the file room of Human Resources, I have felt useful and needed, because for all of us there is no hourly pay. There is only the gift of being useful as a helping arm to an employee or to a department.
One of my great pleasures many years ago was speaking to all the civic clubs in the county as the hospital board was working to raise a bond issue to expand the size and scope of the hospital. Many people objected, thinking of the raise in taxes to support the bond, but some of those same people now enjoy the services of specialists we have brought on board, as well as the pleasure of being able to stay on Swing Bed recovering from surgery on a new second floor.
For a volunteer, there are no dollars and cents exchanged. But there is a warm hug, a handshake and a smile along with a “thank you.” For many women, especially stay at home moms who volunteer, the words “thank you” come very seldom and are most welcome words of applause.
I can’t explain the heart of a volunteer. We espouse some platitudes of “giving back to the community” or “filling the empty time since the kids are in school” or “nothing to look at on television anymore.” I even helped recruit Miss Ceil who was tired of three bridge clubs every week. This still does not explain the heart of someone who has an empty spot to fill.
I think we all have just found the secret to the words “it is better to give than to receive.” These platitudes from the Good Book are not just words to remember. There is a warmth to giving where it is not expected. It is not something we can really pass on to our children. I think it is the size of the heart we are born with. The secret satisfaction of a job well done at the end of the day that is the only reward we need.
And at the end of the day, my favorite quote is from Victor Hugo: “Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones. And when you have laboriously accomplished your daily tasks, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.”
God loves you and so do I.
Barbara Ardis writes a regular column for The Manning Times.