Servant hearts, yeoman hands

Published 1:03 pm Saturday, April 29, 2017

By Beth Alston

AMERICUS — National Volunteer Week, sponsored by Points of Light, recognizes those who tirelessly serve others. The observance was established by President Richard Nixon with a 1974 executive order as a way to celebrate the volunteer spirit. Every sitting president since has issued a proclamation to that effect. Over the past 40-plus years, the original emphasis has widened and includes an effort to urge people to volunteer in their communities.
There are hundreds of individuals right here in Sumter County who are prime examples of selfless service.
Among those is Joan Cordell.
Cordell has volunteered as an Auxilian for Sumter Regional Hospital, and now Phoebe Sumter Medical Center for over 20 years. As a “Pink Lady,” as they were formerly known, she works in the hospital’s gift shop, delivers flowers and other gifts to patients’ rooms, and generally provides a friendly face to patients, their families and others who visit the medical center. She — along with other Auxilians — is also active in fundraisers for the hospital.
In previous interviews with the Americus Times-Recorder, Cordell has said the reason she volunteers is because she enjoys people — meeting new people and forming friendships, and brightening the lives of others. Service is important to her.
Brandi Lunneborg, president and CEO of Phoebe Sumter Medical Center, said of volunteers, “At Phoebe Sumter, we value and thank our wonderful volunteers who share their time and talents with us without asking for anything in return but a smile and a chance to make a difference in their community. Their efforts in the gift shop and through other fundraising events also raise money for needed equipment and projects that add great value for our patients. They donated funds to the Emergency Center Pediatrics project last year and we couldn’t do what we do every day without them … They are truly worth their weight in gold.”
Marcus Johnson, marketing director for Phoebe Sumter, said the hospital currently has approximately 45 volunteers and as of August 2016, (fiscal year, August to July) they have 12,773 volunteered hours, which is about 1,419 hours a month and a projection of more than 17,000 hours for this fiscal year. “The Auxilians are a blessing not only to our organization but the community as a whole,” he said.
Shirley Green-Reese, president of the board of directors of the Boys & Girls Club of Americus/Sumter County, also commented on the importance of volunteer service.
“There are great benefits to volunteering at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Americus/ Sumter County. Whether you are looking to build your skills and resume, develop a career network, enhance your education, create positive change in the lives of others, or feel more connected to your community, volunteering at Boys & Girls Club of Americus/ Sumter County can be a rewarding and life-changing experience. Volunteering at the Boys & Girls Club of Americus/Sumter County will have a great impact on one’s life by creating new friends and establishing wonderful working relationships with the amazing staff and club members. This valuable service can offer so many opportunities for growth in the area of child development. You not only develop one-on-one relationships with the children, but volunteers can work behind the scenes, too. They also get a chance to communicate with the club members’ families and get involved with special projects and events. We also have several internship options available to meet students’ academic needs and interests. Our operations and program development give interns an understanding of how BGC of Americus/Sumter County conducts programs and the impact on local youth. A focus on development allows interns to learn about fundraising, marketing, and volunteer services. We also offer a blended option that can be tailored to an intern’s focus.
“One of the better-known benefits of volunteering is the impact on the community. … And volunteering is a two-way street: it can benefit you and your family as much as the cause you choose to help. Dedicating your time as a volunteer helps you make new friends, expand your network, and boost your social skills. Volunteering can give you the opportunity to try something new, gain experience, develop skills, improve your career prospects, build confidence and meet new people. Through volunteering you can gain confidence, work ethics, customer service, time management, leadership and communication skills when working and talking to people of all ages, make a difference, meet different kinds of people and make new friends, learn new skills, take on a new challenge and have fun.
“Community service involvement is important because volunteering teaches people of all ages and backgrounds compassion and understanding the important of volunteering and putting on service events can be used as a way to advocate for causes that you are personally passionate about. It is good for you; it reduces stress and makes you healthier; it saves resources; volunteers gain professional experience; it brings people together; it promotes personal growth and self-esteem; volunteering strengthens our community; volunteers learn a lot; you get a chance to give back; volunteering encourages civic responsibility and you can make a difference.”

an investment in the Boys & Girls Clubs of Americus/Sumter County literally changes lives. They need five to eight volunteers at each of their sites. She also expressed her sincere appreciation for some of the organizations which have provided volunteers to the Boys & Girls Club over the last few years such as Americus’ Junior Service League, Methodist Children’s Home, Friendship Baptist Church, South Georgia Technical College’s Men’s’ Basketball Team, Tierra Nunn, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., Peach State, Falcons’ Traveling Basketball Skills Team,
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. at Georgia Southwestern State University, and  Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.