Thirty-five years ago, long-time Westford resident Ginger Dries, was looking for a way to help people. She was a substitute teacher in the local public schools and tutored students on the side. However, she wanted a way to give even more back to the community that she loves. She started to volunteer at Emerson Hospital in 1983. “I loved it and made great friends with other volunteers and the people I worked with at the hospital. I have not stopped since.”
Recently, Ginger was honored with the prestigious Joan Schiller Outstanding Volunteer Award at Emerson’s annual Volunteer Awards and Appreciation Luncheon. Each year, one volunteer who has made a significant contribution in service to Emerson patients is honored with the award. Recipients are chosen on the basis of their contributions to the delivery of personal care that strengthens the profession of volunteer service. For Ginger, volunteering is about, “providing compassionate care and doing small acts of kindness to help people who are in the hospital feel better.” During her volunteer shifts several days each week, Ginger is often found providing warm blankets to patients, and engaging them in meaningful conversations.
Ginger, who is 78, has served more than 6,000 hours since she began volunteering at Emerson. During most of her tenure she has worked in the transport department, taking patients to their appointments, such as for an MRI or a CT scan, and back to their hospital rooms. She also helps deliver the mail and materials that various departments throughout the hospital need. “I like to move. It is great exercise to volunteer at the hospital. I walk all over!”
Among her favorite memories volunteering are the many hugs she has received from patients when they are being discharged. Some have written her notes of appreciation. “It makes me feel good knowing that I have made a difference in people’s lives,” explains Ginger. She also cherishes the close friendships she has made with many Emerson volunteers and staff. She notes: “Emerson staff appreciate the volunteers for their support and their compassionate care.” Her entire family has relied on Emerson for their healthcare, including for surgeries, serious illnesses and preventive care.
“One of the hallmarks of Emerson is our focus on giving patients the best medical care with a compassionate and personal touch,” said Christine Schuster, President and CEO of Emerson Hospital. “Our volunteers provide the personal touch that truly makes a difference to patients and families," said Christine Schuster, president and CEO of Emerson. “Ginger’s natural ability to brighten the lives of everyone she engages with at Emerson makes a tremendous impact all over the hospital. She is incredibly deserving of the Joan Schiller Outstanding Volunteer Award and we are extremely grateful to have her on our team.”
"Emerson has more volunteers per patient bed than any other hospital in Massachusetts," explains Janet Davis, Director of Community Services at Emerson. "However, it is not simply how many volunteers we have, but the caliber of volunteers we have. Our patients and their family members can't help but feel comfortable and cared for when they meet Ginger. She loves to help people and it shows in all of her interactions and thoughtful, calm and caring ways with everyone she meets."
For information about volunteering at Emerson Hospital, please visit emersonhospital.org/Support/Volunteering.aspx.
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Emerson Hospital is a multi-site health system headquartered in Concord, Mass., with additional facilities in Sudbury, Groton and Westford and urgent care centers in Hudson and Littleton. The 179-bed hospital provides advanced medical services to more than 300,000 individuals in 25 towns. To learn more, visit www.emersonhospital.org.