Jessica Delwiche's mother ingrained in her that it's better to give than receive. "That's a deep-rooted lesson," said Delwiche, 61. "Throughout life, I've always found myself giving of my time and myself to other people. And it's always made me feel good."
A 20-year veteran of nursing, Delwiche was among the first to join River Falls Area Hospital's new volunteer program, launched last December. Volunteers greet patients and visitors in the hospital lobby and, when needed, guide them to their destinations - whether it's to deliver their baby, get an X-ray, receive chemotherapy, take a class or visit an ill loved one.
"People come to the hospital for a variety of reasons. We never know as they walk through the door what their story is," said Erin Jennings, volunteer coordinator. "Whatever the circumstances, our volunteers offer a friendly face and a helpful hand. They support our paid staff to provide the best care we possibly can." During slower times, greeters help with tasks like making reminder calls or preparing welcome packets.
Volunteer Catelyn Steinmueller, 20, enjoys assisting everyone. But she especially enjoys taking excited visitors to the Birth Center. "I really like trying to help people feel less stressed in a stressful situation," said Steinmueller, a premed student at the University of Wisconsin - River Falls. She's also glad to gain experience in a smaller, community-based hospital, the type of setting in which she hopes to work one day as a doctor.
Like many volunteers, Delwiche and Steinmueller juggle busy schedules. Delwiche works part time, has two married sons and six grandchildren, sews, quilts, kayaks, bicycles and loves to travel. As president of her sorority, Steinmueller stays active inside as well as outside the classroom. Both women make time to volunteer at the hospital because they enjoy living in River Falls and want to be immersed in the community. "River Falls is my home, and I believe we need to foster those communities within our reach," said Delwiche.
That sentiment makes perfect sense to Jennings. "Though we offer a huge variety of services, we're a small facility with a great sense of community, and our volunteers particularly appreciate that," she said.
Healthy Communities Magazine, Fall 2013
Jessica Delwiche and Catelyn Steinmueller, volunteers at River Falls Area Hospital
Volunteer Catelyn Steinmueller (left) enjoys helping people feel less stressed in a stressful situation.