When visitors arrive at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, the first people they see are usually our volunteers. The vounteers greet people at the main entrance, help admit patients, introduce patients to staff and provide directions when needed.

“We want to make them feel comfortable and hopefully have a good experience while at the hospital,” says Ted Haff, who has volunteered at the front desk for the past two years. “We really try to make them feel at home, and they often let us know how thankful they are.”

The main entrance is just one of the places you’ll find volunteers. They help staff and patients in areas throughout the hospital, visiting with patients, providing office support, making deliveries, replenishing supplies, assisting in the waiting room and staffing the gift shop.

“Our volunteers are indispensable to our organization,” says Peggy Todd, manager of Volunteer Services at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission for the past 26 years. “We are incredibly thankful for the time and talents they give on a daily basis.”

Volunteers have been making a difference at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission since the program began in 1961. Shirley Hayes, the first volunteer, was involved with the hospital until her death in early 2012. Today, an average of 600 people volunteer each year. This includes about 100 volunteers in the junior program (ages 14-18) and 500 in the adult program (ages 19 and up). They come from a wide variety of backgrounds—former and retired associates, previous patients, visitors, and community members looking to get involved.

By interacting with patients and our community, our volunteers help us provide the personal connections important to overall health.

At AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, our focus on whole-person health is based on CREATION Health principles. The “I” in CREATION refers to Interpersonal Relationships, including connections with family, friends and others. In other words, our connections with other people can affect our physical, mental and spiritual health.

“Our volunteer program ties in with the CREATION Health principles,” says Todd. “Staying in contact and building relationships with others enriches your social and emotional life. It improves social health and life expectancy.”

Many of the volunteers are former employees who want to stay connected. Judie Royer became a volunteer after retiring from AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, where she worked for 38 years. She started volunteering in 2012 and is one of the friendly faces at the front entrance. “It’s rewarding being able to greet people, give them a smile and help ease their anxiety,” she says.

As a former employee, she says she loves getting to see her friends who work at the hospital. But beyond those connections, she feels blessed that being a volunteer allows her to serve God by helping others. “This is what God wants us to do,” she says. “He wants us to help others. It’s an expression of love.”

Todd says she sees volunteers benefit from their work at the hospital. “When I see them in the hall, I often let them know how much we appreciate them,” she says. “Most of them will tell me, ‘No. Thank you!’ They feel like they get more out of it than anyone. They just feel happy.”