Memorial’s Volunteer Department Celebrates 50th Anniversary

106-10-01The roles and responsibilities of Memorial Medical Center’s volunteers may have changed over the past 50 years, but one thing has not: each volunteer’s commitment to making Memorial a great place to receive care.

“Nobody has volunteers like those at Memorial,” said Dee Clump, who served as director of the Department of Volunteer and Community Services from 2004 to 2007. “They’re there because they want to be there – they just want to make a difference. They just love the hospital.”

Memorial’s Volunteer History

The first organized group of volunteers began assisting Memorial in 1909 as the Springfield Hospital Club, a small cluster of women volunteers and fundraisers. The group changed and grew, ultimately including help from several women’s community groups and the Women’s Auxiliary of Springfield Hospital by the early 1930s. As the years went by, participants in Springfield’s Junior League and Friends of Memorial also provided volunteer hours for the hospital.

In 1963, Memorial’s board of directors voted to create a Department of Volunteers, with Elaine Hoff as its first director. This year, Memorial is celebrating the 50th year of the department and, during National Volunteer Week, April 21-27, reflecting back on what has made the department a strong, vital part of the medical center.

“Memorial’s volunteer department has provided invaluable support and assistance to the hundreds of thousands of inpatients and outpatients we have served over the past five decades,” said Ed Curtis, president and chief executive officer for Memorial Health System. “Our volunteers’ generous sharing of their time and talents to serve the needs of others is an inspiration to us all.”

The Memorial Volunteers

As the hospital has changed and expanded to make up the large medical center it is today, so has the role — and demographic — of our volunteers. When former department director Julie Dirksen first took over in 1979, all volunteers were women, mostly young or middle-aged and very few who worked outside of the home. Their duties consisted of flower deliveries, the hospitality cart, assisting in one surgery lounge and working in the Gift Shop. By the time Dirksen retired in 2004, when Clump took over, the department had been renamed the Department of Volunteer and Community Services and about 95 percent of Memorial’s volunteers were retirees, including a large male contingency.

“Both the role of the hospital in the community and the role of our volunteers really changed,” Dirksen said. “We went beyond flower delivery and working in the waiting lounge by expanding their duties and also offering community education programs.”

Volunteer Program

Some of the programs volunteers helped support over the years included the Gold Club, Healthy Aging programs, TeleMed (a phone line that community members could call and request to listen to tapes on various health topics), TV BINGO, a health education program in partnership with Lanphier High School students, providing one-on-one after-school tutoring to Enos School students, and more.

Today, Memorial’s volunteer program consists of 357 members who provided nearly 63,000 hours of service in 2012. They work throughout the hospital — as escorts, Gift Shop cashiers, in several waiting areas, the Emergency Department, Baylis Medical Building and SportsCare.

Throughout its 50 years, the goal of the volunteer program has remained to support staff so that employees can do their jobs to the best of their ability, which ultimately benefits our patients.

“Staff know that volunteers are here to help them do their job better, so they appreciate the volunteers,” Clump said. “And they are so pleasant to be around – they bring a spark of joy to your life.”

Become a Volunteer

If you are interested in volunteering at Memorial Medical Center, visit and complete an online application.