They call themselves Greenfield’s best kept secret and since 2016 they have donated more than $42,000 to the Adena Greenfield Medical Center. They are the AGMC Volunteers.
They operate the hospital’s gift shop, meet, greet and help anyone they can, and in 2016 and 2017 alone the 25 members (including two men) donated 54,291 hours to the hospital.
“We want to make everybody aware that we’re not just a gift shop for sick people or people who come to the hospital,” said Susan Koch, who joined the group in November after seeing how much good they do while she was rehabilitating there. “I think the one thing we’re trying to do, when you need a gift we want people to realize you can buy quality things at our shop and the money stays right here and helps the hospital.”
There have been volunteers at the hospital for decades – like Betty Wise who is in her 48th year of volunteering or Peggy Grimsley who is her 38th year.
But the current volunteers got their start on Oct. 7, 1980 when they were called the Pink Ladies Volunteers Services of the Greenfield Medical Center. About seven years ago Cristy Miser took over direction of the gift shop. While Miser is no longer with the group, she set them on a new course and they continue to grow.
In 2016, the AGMC Volunteers donated $4,446 to the hospital. That total grew to $24,402 last year and so far this year they have donated $13,245.
“Before that I felt like I was lucky if I sold a gift card,” said secretary Shelba Grim, who last year received a pin for 1,250 volunteer hours.
Grim said she joined the volunteers seven or eight years ago after the hospital provided outstanding care to her mother. She said treasurer Karen Yeager explained what the volunteers do, and now she gets a sense of feeling needed when she helps.
“It’s a good way to give back and keep my mind active,” said Yeager, a retired teacher. “I love it because I see people and get to reconnect, and it never gets old. It’s a lot of fun.”
Today, Eleanor Snodgrass leads a group of five or six buyers. “We are taking it another step to a small boutique. I call it our little Hallmark story,” she said.
Over the past couple years the volunteers have purchased pergolas and pavers; a kids play table; TVs, mounts and toys for the emergency department; newspapers for rehab patients; new flooring; more than $13,000 in chairs; and carts.
But the volunteers do a lot more than just raise money for the hospital. They take special pride in making patients and visitors feel welcome.
For instance, Koch said that one day when she was working at the desk she noticed a man who had been coming to the hospital for several days and did not look like he was feeling well.
“The man asked to speak to me and he said, ‘I can come in this hospital and everyone is so like family,’” Koch said. “So that is something I don’t think we even realize; that we’re making a difference in other people’s lives. It just touched my heart because I thought maybe he didn’t even like us.”
The volunteers work Monday through Friday in two shifts – 8 a.m. to noon and noon to 4 p.m. That’s also when the gift shop is open, although it has extended and weekend hours around the holidays. They are considering expanding to include regular Saturday hours.
They are always looking for new volunteers and have an application anyone interested can fill out.
One of the newest volunteers is Marilyn Raike, who said she decided “to see what it’s all about and if I could be of help.”
Patty Mertz is president of the AGMC Volunteers, and Diana and Don Zimmerman are the vice president and assistant treasurer, respectively.
“It’s a great place for people that want to get out a little bit and see people and help people,” Koch said. “I didn’t think I would like it. I thought I’d be bored. But I have not been bored a single day.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.