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- Volunteers in Action
Jan O'Neill, Menomonie
Showing kindness to others
My name is Jan O’Neill. I have been a volunteer in various capacities at Mayo Clinic Health System – Red Cedar in Menomonie since 2002. Before retirement, I worked as a nurse for 35 years in several departments at Red Cedar. During that time, I also served as patient care administrator and collaborated with Volunteer Services on various projects. I served as president of the volunteer auxiliary and chair of the West Central District of Partners for the Wisconsin Hospital Association. I currently volunteer on Red Cedar’s hospital board from a community member perspective.
I volunteer in the gift shop in Menomonie. I am responsible for cashiering, as well as providing service to visitors. I particularly enjoy helping visitors select the perfect gift for any occasion. Some visitors have something specific in mind, while others aren’t quite sure what they want. Since I am familiar with the gift shop’s merchandise, I enjoy giving visitors ideas and pointing out gifts they may like.
After retirement, I really missed patient contact at the hospital. However, volunteering gives me the opportunity to interact with patients once again, form friendships with community members and provide an important service to others.
When people ask me why I volunteer, I tell them it keeps me active and provides me with support from colleagues. In my opinion, volunteering is important because I am able to save the hospital money for wages while providing a vital service for patients and visitors. I especially enjoy the camaraderie of hospital volunteers and staff.
For me, volunteering is an act of kindness for others, especially for those who may be grieving or having difficulty in life. One story from volunteering I have involves a young woman who came into the gift shop looking to buy a charger for her cell phone. Unfortunately, the woman did not have enough money to afford one because she was homeless.
I figured a phone charger couldn’t be too expensive, so I decided to buy one for the woman. When I gave it to her, she began to cry. She said she had never received a gift like that in her life. This is a great example of why I volunteer. Volunteering is an opportunity to do an act of kindness for the day, which is very fulfilling for me.
If you are interested in volunteering, I encourage you to give it a try. With so many types of volunteering available, there is an opportunity to fit each person’s individual interests. All experience levels are welcome. Volunteer Services is excellent at placing you in an appropriate position. Hours are flexible, and it is a great way to give back to your community.
Like Jan, you, too, can volunteer at Mayo Clinic Health System. You must be at least 14 years old to volunteer. All ability levels are welcome.