Desire to be with others motivates volunteer

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 29, 2006

When Marie Muccioli moved from New Jersey to Suffolk to be closer to her only child, she found that she was lonely, that she missed her friends back home.

In an attempt to meet new people, Muccioli took herself down to Obici Hospital and applied to be a volunteer. Five years later, she is president of the hospital Auxiliary Volunteers.

“She’s doing a great job,” said David Pribble,


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manager of volunteer services.

Muccioli began the two-year term in September, and though she is a bit nervous about the responsibility (“It’s just that I like this place so much.”), Muccioli said she loves the time she spends at the hospital.

“I enjoy every bit of it.”

As president, she presides over monthly meetings of the auxiliary, oversees various committees and helps man a staff of nearly 300 volunteers who average about 30,000 hours of volunteer time each year.

“Many of our volunteers have been here for years,” said Rhonda Bowles, of Obici’s marketing department.

“We could not do it without them,” she said, adding that they are as familiar in the hospital as the paid employees.

The auxiliary’s primary fundraiser is the hospital gift shop, which is where Muccioli began her volunteer career and continues to dedicate much of her time. While she spends an average of eight to 10 hours a week at the hospital, she often will put in longer hours for special events, sales at the shop and other fundraisers. So far in her volunteer career, Muccioli has dedicated more than 2,000 hours to Obici.

“It can be very busy,” she said.

The auxiliary’s board votes to determine how the money they raise will be used. Last year, they were able to purchase a $40,000 bus to transport child patients, as well as donate $70,000 to the hospital, she said. They also made various donations to other hospital departments.

“We do pretty good, I think,” Muccioli said.

Bowles noted that the funds generated by the auxiliary are ever-increasing.

One new project is a water fountain to be installed in the hospital atrium near admitting.

“It’s going to be very beautiful,” Muccioli said, noting that the soothing sounds of water trickling could help comfort people waiting for their sick loved ones.

Pribble said to be a volunteer one must fill out an application, supply references, and undergo a background check and TB skin test, as well as a fire safety test. They try to place volunteers based on their preference and the hospital’s needs.