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  • Volunteering Will Help You Make a Difference

  • by Lisa Coble, director of volunteer services for Newport Hospital 

    We all have something to give. Studies show that being actively involved in ongoing volunteer work actually increases life expectancy while improving quality of life.

    Clara Nunes, 87 years young, has been volunteering at Newport Hospital for more than20 years and says, ”Volunteering at the hospital makes me forget all my aches and pains.” Starting from elementary school age and throughout your lifespan, volunteering is accessible to all of us. Whether you are helping a neighbor or volunteering at a nonprofit organization, there are so many ways to give.

    hand massage

    How do you get started finding the right volunteer position? Here are some things to consider before you seek a volunteer position:

    • Do you want a formal weekly commitment or an as-needed assignment?
    • Do you enjoy working alone or in groups?
    • What issues are you passionate about and want to have an impact on in your community?
    • Do you want to gain social contacts, professional references or learn new skills?
    • Are you seeking a volunteer opportunity as a way to explore a new career path or to find purpose in your retirement years?
    • Most importantly, what gifts do you have to share?

    Establishing the number of hours you have to give and the geographic location you wish to serve in will be critical to the long-term success of your volunteer experience. After you establish your personal goals, you can start your search. There are websites to search volunteer opportunities, such as www.volunteermatch.org and www.serverhodeisland.org. You can also go directly to a nonprofit organization’s website or call your local school department. Churches, synagogues and youth sports organizations are great places to volunteer.

    At Newport Hospital, there are many opportunities to give back. If you enjoy walking and talking, you can apply to be a mobility volunteer. Mobility volunteers take referrals from the nurses to walk with patients who would benefit from ambulating. Upon completing six hours of training, the volunteers make a once-a-week commitment to walking with patients. The nursing and physical therapy staff are very pleased to welcome this new volunteer initiative that truly enhances a patient’s journey to wellness.

    Special training is available to individuals who wish to serve on the comfort care team to offer hand massage, Reiki and reflexology to patients. Reiki volunteers are required to show proof of Reiki Level I certification. The hand massage volunteers are trained by a registered massage therapist on the protocol for massage in the hospital setting. We provide the hand lotion, CD players and relaxation music for comfort care volunteers. Jean Wilson, comfort care volunteer, said: “We have been gifted with one of the greatest opportunities — to offer our healing hearts and helping hands.”

    Students can learn about careers in medicine by volunteering after school or during the summer. Any student wishing to apply for a summer 2014 volunteer assignment should attend an upcoming volunteer information session. Volunteer information sessions are offered throughout the year. Students must be 15 years of age or older to serve at Newport Hospital. Everyone is welcome to attend volunteer information sessions and complete the volunteer application.

    There are openings to volunteer in the Newport Hospital Auxiliary gift shop. Gift shop volunteers will greet customers and assist with retail transactions. It is a fun and stylish boutique and open seven days a week. All funds that are generated from the gift shop support hospital programs. The Auxiliary makes it possible for patients to receive a complimentary Newport Daily News, give new moms and their babies hand-knit hats and booties, adorn the walls of the hospital with original artwork. Stop by the gift shop next time you are searching for the perfect baby gift, birthday present or unique jewelry accessory.

    However you choose to serve, make it special, fun and fulfilling. Do it by yourself or as a family. Keep a journal to reflect on what you accomplished and how your mood lifted while volunteering. The rewards are many for those who choose to serve.

    For more information about volunteering at Newport Hospital, call 401-845-1635 or visit the volunteer office online.


    Originally published in the Newport Daily News.