Volunteer Recipient: Beverly Ford, Medical City Lewisville, Lewisville, TX
Volunteering is what Beverly Ford calls “the best unpaid job I’ve ever had,” and based on her performance reviews, it’s unlikely she’ll be asked to stop anytime soon.
Ford spends several hours a week in Medical City Lewisville’s emergency room, making sure nurses, clinicians, patients and families see a friendly face and a capable pair of hands to help with anything from a blanket and drink of water to stocking supply closets. Out in the community, she’s also a longtime volunteer and supporter of the Texas Ramp Project, an organization that builds wheelchair ramps for those in need, as well as the Lewisville Salvation Army, the Lewisville Fire Department Reserves and other worthy causes.
“When you find the right opportunity, it’s so fulfilling that you keep looking for more ways to do what makes you happy,” Ford says. “I feel like if you can’t do what brings you joy, especially as a volunteer, you’re in the wrong place.”
At Medical City Lewisville, Ford has earned the unstinting praise of her emergency room colleagues, who call out her willing-ness to work extra time, even holidays, to make sure staff is supported.
“She is steadfast and dedicated to keeping our rooms stocked with necessary supplies and linens,” says Lynn Hawk, RN, CEN. “This doesn’t even include how Beverly organized and maintains the EMS lounge not only on her regular day, but also on Sunday to make sure the supplies for our paramedics, firefighters and police are full and available for their needs.”
At the Texas Ramp Project, Ford has overseen a 15-county region and in so doing helped volunteers build 1,800 ramps, 338 in the last year alone. “Seeing people in desperate need and knowing that over the course of four or five hours their lives can be transformed — that has been Beverly’s driving motivation,” says Kay Champagne, board member.
As for anyone else who wishes to take up her mantle, she has some sage advice: “If you don’t feel good when you leave a volunteer job, then you need to find a better fit. I get lots more out of what I do than I ever give. I get a lot of hugs, and that’s all the pay or thanks I need.”
Volunteer Finalist: Carolyn Shovlowsky, Sky Ridge Medical Center, Lone Tree, CO
Whether it’s a hospital waiting room or youth correctional facility, wherever Carolyn Shovlowsky goes, she knows she can win over a room.
Her secret? Therapy dogs. For more than 12 years at Sky Ridge Medical Center, the former educator has been bringing smiles and calming fears with her canine companions. Anxious patients and their families enjoy meeting Shovlowsky and Oscar (her third therapy dog), and then she continues her good works at Mount View Youth Services Center, a facility for troubled youth.
In addition to those very demanding commitments, she finds time to work with Hope Animal Assisted Crisis Response, as well as Guide Dogs for the Blind, for which she is raising five puppies and handling their initial training. Adding even more onto her full plate, she and her dogs work with library reading programs, school education programs and even a Sunday shift at Sky Ridge’s Ronald McDonald Room. In addition to bringing comfort and cheer to patients, Shovlowsky and her dogs also help stressed clinicians in their times of need. In addition to lab visits, for example, she was on hand for post-exercise comforting after some active-shooter drills.
“The drill was very stressful for some of our staff, and having this re-source available decreased the stress and potential trauma it may have caused,” says Jennifer Rottler, director of risk/regulatory compliance. “Carolyn and her dogs are available to visit our staff when we have had a difficult patient event or staff tragedies. Her unending support at Sky Ridge Medical Center is invaluable.”
Volunteer Finalist: Janet Berry, Raulerson Hospital, Okeechobee, FL
As an LPN, Janet Berry worked for more than 20 years at Raulerson Hospital. Then she’d head home, where she and her late husband Dan were foster parents to more than 100 children over the years.
She also volunteered more than 20 hours a week at a local clothes closet for foster children, and helped with vacation Bible school and many other programs at her church.
So, what did she do when she retired in 2014? She came right back to the hospital as a volunteer, bringing her son Joey along and, to date, logging more than 1,000 hours providing patients with fresh water, warm blankets and friendly conversations.
In addition to her hospital work and ongoing church duties, Berry works with another group of volunteers to plan social outings and get-togethers for special-needs adults in the community.
Closer to home, her willingness to provide love, guidance and inspiration to her ever-growing family left an impression that can never fade.
“I have never met a person who is willing to love and serve others like my mother,” says her son Daniel. “She took care of children, her own and foster children, with as many of 10 of us in the home at a time. In many ways what I do now as a pastor in the local church is because of her. She and my father showed me that life is not about what you can take from it, but about what you give to others through it. She is almost 73 years old and when I see her I get tired, because she is non-stop. That drive to care for and serve others pushes her every day.”