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Sparrow Ionia Hospital recognizes volunteers for their decades of service

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Posted at 9:27 AM, Apr 18, 2022

IONIA, MI — During this Volunteer Week, Sparrow Ionia Hospital recognizes the many volunteers who continue to serve as an important part to the organization and have an incredible history of providing care to Ionia-area residents.

Sparrow Ionia Hospital currently has 47 volunteers that assist in transporting patients arriving or leaving the hospital and working in the gift shop, welcome center, and surgery lounge. Many of the current volunteers have been with the hospital since it was known as Ionia County Memorial Hospital (ICMH) from 1943-2010.

The ICMH Auxiliary was formed in 1955, shortly after the hospital moved to the Lafayette Street location. In the early 1970s, there were 13 different Guilds under the ICMH Auxiliary that raised money for the hospital – Cart N’ Lobby, Ex Libris, Geranium, Hale, Lake Odessa, Lucy Cull, Marsh, McCann, Medical, St. Barnabas, Service, Silver, and Yellow Rose.

Elaine Caswell has been a member of the Ex Libris Guild since 1977. She recalls that the group “held jewelry sales, uniform sales, and decorated Pediatrics with colorful paintings on the walls to make it a fun place for the kids.”

The Auxiliary has been vital in raising contributions for the hospital and its needs. Among others, the Auxiliary organized fundraising projects consisting of charity balls, bake sales, fairy gardens, euchre tournaments, and the hospital gift shop.

The volunteers helped fund several renovations at ICMH and Sparrow Ionia Hospital, including the Guild Room, Father’s Waiting Room, Dining Room, Day Room, and Lobby. The Guild was a necessity in funding departments’ “wish list” extras, such as surgical equipment. In addition, the Guild would fund scholarships for nurses.

Sandy Olson has been a volunteer since 1999. She volunteers because she says, “It is important to help people and make a difference in this world.” She enjoys helping and interacting with the patients, families, and the hardworking caregivers. “A personal highlight was when I reached 20 years of

volunteering at the hospital and received my 20-year pin. I am now in my 24th year and hope to make it to at least 25 years!”

In 2016, only four Guilds remained – Cart N’ Lobby, Ex Libris, Lafayette, and Yellow Rose. The four Guilds worked together and pledged $50,000 over five years to help in the construction of the new hospital and chose the chapel as their special dedication project.

Peg Christopher Fell was a volunteer for 30 years, up until her early 90s. She held various offices and committee chairs, including but not limited to, president, vice president of Community Relations, treasurer, vice president of Volunteer Services, and historian. She was also responsible for putting the Auxiliary Newsletter together from 1994 to 2016. “We set an example in the community and we created and maintained many friendships over the years,” says Fell. “Being able to contribute monetarily through our efforts made us all proud.”

In addition to dedicating their time to volunteering, every year since 1976 the Guilds would nominate an “Advocate of the Year.”

Sparrow Ionia’s past and present volunteers have devoted their time, talent, and resources to the hospital and their community. They continue to be an important part of our mission to improve the health of our region, delivering quality, compassionate care to everyone, every time. For more information or to become a volunteer, visit Sparrow.org/Volunteer.