The Volunteer Spirit

The heart of volunteerism involves the giving of one’s time, or talents, to a worthwhile activity in the community. This is especially true for Abby Stone, of Sherwood, and Kitty Conley, of Judsonia, who both joined the White County Medical Center Auxiliary as a way to give back to the hospital after life-changing medical emergencies.

In September 2004, Stone was admitted to the hospital after suffering multiple fractures in a horrible car accident. With a broken shoulder scapula and sacrum (the triangular bone at the base of the pelvis), a pelvis broken in two places, as well as a closed head injury, she spent nearly a week at WCMC before transferring to the WCMC Inpatient Rehab Unit for three weeks, followed by two months of outpatient physical therapy.

“I was in very bad shape when I was admitted,” Stone said. “During the three weeks I spent in the Inpatient Rehab Unit, I had to relearn so many life skills like how to walk again and how to dress myself. I had every type of therapy they offer from physical and occupational therapy to recreational therapy.”

“The therapists and staff in Rehab were awesome to me,” she added. “I remember having to get out of bed one morning, but it was so painful … the therapist told me it didn’t matter how long it took, she would be right there with me the whole time. I thought that was so wonderful.”

“I always told the therapists and staff that they were ‘angels in scrubs,” Stone said. “Thankfully, I met my goals earlier than the therapists and I expected, and I was discharged in December. By March, I was able to run again.”

Stone works as an assistant principal at a school in North Little Rock during the school year and drives to Searcy during the summer months and Christmas break to volunteer. 

“While I may not have millions of dollars to give the hospital to show my appreciation for what they did for me, I decided to dedicate my time as a volunteer,” Stone said. “They blessed me with being able to walk again, and I wanted to be able to do something where I’m moving around the hospital and using my legs. God worked through the people at White County Medical Center to help me heal.”

Kitty Conley shares a similar story. “I have been so blessed by people from the hospital who have helped me, I thought I should pay them back, so that’s why I decided to become a volunteer,” she said. 

In April 2011, Conley suffered a thoracic aortic aneurism in the middle of the night. Initially, she thought she was having a heart attack and was rushed to the WCMC Emergency Department where she was treated by Emergency Medicine physician Martin Carey, M.D.

“Dr. Carey quickly discovered that it was not a heart attack and sent me to a Little Rock hospital for emergency surgery,” Conley recalled. “The treatment I got from him kept me alive, so I am very thankful for White County Medical Center and Dr. Carey.”

When she returned to Searcy two weeks later, Conley spent more than three weeks in rehab, then, WCMC Home Health for over eight months. “The therapists were all so nice, and my Home Health nurse Steffie Parrish was wonderful,” she said. “I could not have had better care than I had from them.”

Thanks to the “excellent” medical care she received at WCMC, along with the love and devotion of her family and the prayers of believers near and far, Conley has come a long way in her journey to return to good health and said she is happy to be able to help. She started volunteering in September 2012 and has been enjoying her time volunteering at the hospital once a week.

“I have been told that people don’t normally survive an aneurism like I had,” Conley said. “I feel like the Lord kept His hand on me. I believe there is a reason for everything and that I was left here for a reason. I don’t know what that reason is, and I may not ever know, but I have to try to do something. I decided that volunteering at the hospital was what I needed to do.”

Experts in the fields of psychology and sociology have long held that those who volunteer are generally happy and have high self self-esteem, which contributes to health and longevity. 

“When you volunteer it gets you out of the house, generates a feeling of usefulness and is a fun opportunity to make new friends,” said Psychiatrist Jeffery Rains, M.D. “It is a great way to unlock your mind and keep it active and alert.”

WCMC volunteers provide non-clinical support in various areas throughout the hospital. Last year, Stone and Conley were among the 170 volunteers who contributed more than 36,000 hours of service to the hospital.

According to WCMC Director of Volunteer Services Jamie Laughlin, the hospital officially celebrates the contributions of the WCMC Auxiliary through a recognition program each April, which is National Volunteer Month.

“Our hospital is so blessed to have such a strong group of volunteers like Abby and Kitty who have a heart for service and love for everyone here,” Laughlin said. “Patients and associates alike benefit from the work the volunteers provide to our hospital. They work in a variety of departments throughout the hospital including Admissions, Information Desk, Gift Shoppes at three locations, Materials Management, Guest Services, Medical Records and the Chaplain Department. Our hospital is able to operate even more smoothly and efficiently thanks to our volunteers! We are tremendously grateful to each of them for their work with us here.”

The mission of the Auxiliary is to support White County Medical Center by purchasing equipment, and providing funds for buildings and healthcare items that help the hospital best meet the needs of patients. The Auxiliary’s primary means of raising money to donate to the Foundation is through managing the Carousel Gift Shoppes on the WCMC North and South Campuses, and Moxie, the newest gift shop located inside the Cancer Center of Excellence.

For more information about the White County Medical Center Auxiliary and ways to volunteer, please call (501) 380-1055 or email marketing@wcmc.org