Wed, May 10, 2017
One night a week for the past 20 years, volunteer Patsy Manning has wheeled a beverage cart through the halls of WellStar West Georgia Medical Center, offering complimentary coffee, hot chocolate and lemonade to visitors and staff.
Through the WellStar West Georgia Medical Center Auxiliary, she has donated 785 volunteer hours to the hospital since 1997. Most of those hours happen after the sun sets and visitors have gone home. Amid the occasional beeps of IV drips and intermittent overhead intercom pages, the wheels of her rolling cart announce her impending arrival to each department.
Not only do visitors and staff welcome her refreshments, but they also love the pick-me-up her warm presence brings.
“I take the coffee cart to ICU, the ER, Medical Records — just about to every floor,” she said. “I go up to the sixth floor and work my way down. When they hear me coming to Radiology, one certain guy says, ‘Here comes the cheer chart!’”
“I like to think I bring some added brightness to their day.”
And that she does, according to several WellStar WGMC team members who nominated her for WGMC’s 2017 Volunteer of the Year. She was presented the honor recently at the medical center’s annual Volunteer Picnic.
“She’s an exceptional person; we love seeing her every week,” one nominator said. “She’s always so kind and accommodating. She is a ray of sunshine to all she encounters, and I believe you couldn’t find a more deserving person than her.”
Manning said she couldn’t do it without the help of the Food and Nutrition Services team members, who help prepare the beverages for her to serve. Nominators also said Manning is known for purchasing and preparing many of the drinks herself.
“She has just that kind of heart and expects nothing in return,” the nominator said.
Manning began volunteering at WGMC when she and about 12 members of her women’s group at Trinity United Methodist Church decided to serve the community by manning the coffee cart at the hospital.
At the time, she worked as a secretary in the Troup County School System. She retired in 2008 after 30 years of service.
“We were mostly all working at our regular jobs at the time, so usually two of us at a time would volunteer once a month at the hospital,” she said.
She began volunteering once a week after she retired. When one of her colleagues, principal Greta Wright, retired, she began volunteering with Manning as well.
“I remember Greta said, ‘This way, we can still continue to stay together,’” she said.
Manning also volunteers at special sales the WGMC Auxiliary offers to raise money for the West Georgia Health Foundation. In addition to her work at the hospital, she volunteers at Ethel Kight Elementary’s “school store,” where students redeem earned good behavior bucks for food and other small items.
Manning said it feels a bit strange to be singled out for the Volunteer of the Year honor. So many of her fellow church members have volunteered alongside her for years, she said, offering up just as much compassion and care.
“They feel blessed by their opportunity to serve just as much as I do,” she said. “Through this, I’ve met so many people who have become a special part of my life, who look up and smile when they see me coming.”
Jean Lewis, WGMC’s director of Volunteer Services, said volunteers are currently needed at the hospital and WGMC’s two nursing homes, Twin Fountains Home and Florence Hand Home.
“Volunteers are a vital part of the West Georgia Medical Center community,” Lewis said. “Sometimes their work isn’t tangible when their job is reassuring an apprehensive patient or sharing hope to a worried visitor. But that is just as important as other duties, such as delivering and reading mail to nursing home residents, ringing up sales in the gift shop, or serving as a liaison between families and caregivers in the ICU.”
For more information about volunteering, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (706) 845-3965. An online volunteer application and medical release form can be accessed at wellstar.org by searching “wellstar volunteer overview” in the top right corner of the home page.