MedWatch: Charlevoix Volunteers

This week is volunteer week, a time when charities, hospitals and communities recognize the people who give their time and talents selflessly.

Munson Healthcare Charlevoix Hospital has many, but one woman has worked her way into so many hearts by filling their stomachs every week.

Michelle Dunaway and chief photojournalist Corey Adkins introduce us to her in this month’s MedWatch.

“Everybody loves Barb, she does a great job. Everyone looks forward to Wednesday,” said Joanne Schroeder, president of Munson Healthcare Charlevoix.

John McDonald, director of food nutrition, added, “It’s just a great spirit lifter for our staff, as well as our visitors. She’s got a regular crowd that comes in every week.”

Welcome to Wednesday breakfast at Munson Healthcare Charlevoix Hospital, courtesy of longtime volunteer Barbara Wheat. 

“I need to have something to keep me busy, and I had a lot of years of experience in food service,” explained Barb.

So 13 years ago, Barb started working in dietary at the hospital, basically cleaning up.

Director of food nutrition John McDonald saw she had skills that she wasn’t using and suggested a hot breakfast once a week.

“We’ve got some eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, but every week we try to do one specialty item, it may be omelets to order. We also do a sunrise breakfast sandwich, biscuits and gravy, even do grits on occasion,” said John. “She’s probably doing 200 patrons a week.”

Barb said, “I am very fortunate and I was when I started this in that for an old lady, I have a lot of strength and I still have the wisdom to do it so why let these blessings go to waste? It pleases me to make someone else’s day a little better.”

Barb is one of about 50 volunteers, all of them a valuable asset to the team.

“They bring experience, skills, friendship and they inspire us. And besides that, they give so freely of their time and with that time they not only help us get the work done, they also in turn raise money in the hospital through their gift shop, the sheet sales, book sales and they turn around and give those dollars back to the hospital for needed projects,” explained Joanne.

John added, “There’s just something special about the heart of a volunteer, and I think it goes to show you young or old, there’s something you an offer nonprofit organizations, and volunteering is just a great thing.”

Barb couldn’t agree more.

“What I think about is how special it is to me to be able to come in here and do something that I enjoy doing, use the skills that I’ve acquired, you know they don’t go dormant, and be around nice people. So I don’t think about what I give to other people, I think about how blessed I am to be able to do it,” said Barb.

There are plenty of volunteer opportunities across Northern Michigan throughout the Munson Healthcare System.

For more information, click here.

Categories: MedWatch