From professor to volunteer: Menomonie resident volunteers to serve others
My name is Fred Menz, and I am a volunteer in Menomonie. Before I retired from academia in 2005, I was a professor in vocational rehabilitation at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie. At the university, I directed a national research center focused on disability and employment. I also collaborated with Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire and Mayo Clinic in Rochester to conduct efficacy research and develop materials to improve employment for those with traumatic brain injury. These efforts had nationally recognized impact and spanned more than a dozen years of collaboration.
I’ve always worked hard and remained deeply committed to my profession. When I fully retired in 2015, I wanted to do something that would allow me to have a direct impact on people in my community. I decided that volunteering would complement my varied interests, help me stay active in retirement and meet new people.
For the past two years, I have volunteered in Urgent Care and the Emergency Department in Menomonie. At the information desk, I interact with visitors, answer questions and offer assistance to people in wheelchairs.
My favorite part of volunteering is offering comfort to those in need of reassurance. Oftentimes, visitors of Urgent Care and the Emergency Department are worried and hurting. I try to give encouragement, a bit of humor and comfort to those in need. Sometimes, just being there with a listening ear or a calming touch lets people know that I, and the organization, care.
Volunteering has allowed me to build relationships with both visitors and staff. Menomonie has many regulars, so I have started to look out for them, recognize them and check to see if they may need a wheelchair or other assistance. Volunteering also has allowed me to get to know many staff members. I am consistently inspired by the finesse and care they provide to patients. I strive to match their level of Mayo care through my volunteering.
In addition to volunteering, I participate in Menomonie’s Patient and Family Advisory Committee. In this capacity, I offer input from a community member’s perspective. Interacting with patients and staff through volunteering helps inform my input and advice on the effectiveness of services.
Over the years, I have enjoyed forming a personal connection to Mayo through participation with the committee and volunteering. I also appreciate the organization’s commitment to meeting Menomonie's health care needs.
Volunteering allows me to give something of myself to others. I enjoy having the opportunity to apply my smile and a helping hand. I think that the organization’s mission can be captured in this tagline: “Lead with kindness and serve with competence.”
Like Fred, you, too, can volunteer at Mayo Clinic Health System. You must be at least 14 years old to volunteer. All ability levels are welcome.