Thank you for giving of yourself

Published 9:53 pm Thursday, December 27, 2012

By Stephie Broadwater

Western Tidewater Free Clinic depends on so many to fulfill our mission of being a health home for our patients. Our donors (individuals, businesses, community and faith-based organizations, municipalities and foundations), medical partners, staff and volunteers all work in concert to create the fabric of our organization. And while all are important to the success of our work, for this moment, I want to focus on and publicly thank our volunteers who give selflessly and ask nothing in return.

The clinic counts around 180 individuals in our active volunteer corps, and they have a hand in everything that happens at WTFC. Whether it’s answering the phone, verifying medical records, triaging or counseling a patient, filling a prescription, following up on lab results or seeing patients, volunteers do it all at the clinic. During our 5-1/2 years of operation, our wonderful volunteers have provided 60,583 hours of service. This gift of volunteer time has a retail value of approximately $2.1 million … huge. It would be impossible financially for WTFC to hire all of the staff needed to take care of our almost 2,800 patients, but our volunteers make it possible. Our rapid growth and high quality of care are due in large measure to this group of people.

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Some volunteer once a month, and others multiple times a week. When I talk with volunteers, some have a story of a specific patient who has touched her/his heart. Others comment that “there but for the grace of God go I,” and all believe strongly in the mission of the clinic and the difference they are making in the lives of our patients. When I started volunteering at WTFC, I was amazed to learn the need for health care was, and is, so great in my own community.

A volunteer committee spearheads our efforts to recruit, train and recognize our volunteers. The committee, staff and volunteers write letters, participate in presentations and make personal asks to recruit new volunteers. New volunteers receive an overall orientation regarding the work of WTFC and then receive specific training in their area of work. Many, at their request, are cross-trained for several jobs. Additionally, there is a picnic where volunteers of the year are recognized and a holiday party to celebrate our volunteers.

Being part of a team that provides compassionate care to some of the most vulnerable in our community is more rewarding than I can describe. Every volunteer tells me that they receive back more than they give. But our patients tell stories of the blessings and better health that our volunteers give them. How do you ever say “thank you” for this? Being in the corps of people whose helping hands give health and hope to those in need of health care is an extraordinary experience. To our volunteers, thank you, thank you for sharing your time and talents. We would not be where we are today without each and every one of you.

Stephie Broadwater serves as chairman of the board at Western Tidewater Free Clinic. For more information about Western Tidewater Free Clinic, or for a tour, contact Miriam Beiler, executive director, at 923-1060, ext. 7001 or