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Volunteers mark 70th anniversary of Hospital Auxiliary

STORY BY NANCY SAPEY (Week of August 11, 2022)
Photo: Volunteer Betty Holden helps Bridgette Storey pick out some flowers in the gift shop.

Through 70 years of cheerfully showing up to work for zero pay, Vero’s hospital auxiliary volunteers have navigated changing technology, building construction, renovations and expansions, hurricanes, staff and management changes, a growing county population and finally the handoff to Cleveland Clinic – but it took a pandemic to keep them on the sidelines.

For 19 months, strict COVID-19 precautions meant hospital volunteers needed to stay home, for their own safety as much as for the patients. But recently Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital began phasing volunteers back into the mix. Since the volunteers missed the auxiliary’s 70th anniversary in 2021, they are celebrating it now.

“We are so grateful our volunteers have returned to Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital and cannot thank them enough for their care and dedication to our patients and community,” Dr. Greg Rosencrance, president of the hospital, said.

“For 70 years, the Auxiliary has played a vital role in achieving our mission providing exceptional health, hope and compassion to every person, every time. I could not be more proud of our volunteers for making a difference in the lives others,” he said.

A few volunteers agreed to be part of a test comeback last October, then earlier this year restrictions were gradually loosened. Volunteers – who, like hospital staff, are required to wear masks – don’t interact with patients the way they used to, but are kept busy behind the scenes helping with administrative duties.
“They provide such a valuable service to outpatient endoscopy by easing the flow of patients and their families throughout the day as well as helping me with a tremendous amount of paperwork,” said Outpatient Endoscopy Program Coordinator Donna Thomas.  “They are an invaluable asset to the department.”

The number of volunteers at the moment, however, is down sharply from pre-pandemic high of nearly 500 including 125 high school students.

At present, there are 50 to 75 active volunteers, said Volunteer Program Manager Scott Duncan. Many of the students graduated, volunteers moved back north to their families, health issues forced some to withdraw, and others aged out of the program or passed away.

Thus, the 70th anniversary is the perfect time to rebuild the Auxiliary’s ranks, said Duncan, who  promised to find “an appropriate job for anyone.”

Even wheelchair-bound volunteers can contribute in some manner and can be paired with a service of their interest. Lobby greeters, gift shop workers, and clerical assistance are samples of the hospital’s needs. Anyone wishing to join can reach him by email at

Auxiliary President Marsha Adams takes pride in the many accomplishments of the Auxiliary, and especially scholarship program. Money raised by the volunteers, who staff the Pink Corner Gift Shop in the hospital lobby, is awarded to employees seeking to further their education.

Presently four students are enrolled in the program, attending classes at Indian River State Col-lege to become certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses or registered nurses. Recipients agree to remain working at the hospital for a time upon completion.

“This is a win for the community.” said Adams.