When Benita McGraw joined Centerpoint Medical Center as a volunteer three years ago, she had just retired and was looking to make new friends and stay active.
She found that and more.
“I’m helping people,” she said. “It’s really a great feeling.” Each Tuesday morning, McGraw takes the hospitality cart from waiting room to waiting room, providing hospital visitors with free beverages and snacks as they wait for family or friends who are undergoing surgery or other medical procedures.
“I know how worried a lot of these people are,” she said. “If I can make them smile or distract them even for a moment, it makes them feel better.” It also makes her feel better.
It’s a sentiment most volunteers share.
“I don’t feel like this is a job,’ she said. “My pay is what I get back from the patients’ families.” McGraw is also the Hospitality Chairperson of the Centerpoint Auxiliary, a non-profit group that provides for the needs of hospital patients, charities in eastern Jackson County, scholarships for high school and college students and assistance for hospital employees.
“Being a volunteer at Centerpoint, has made me appreciate my health even more,” she said. “We need to make the most of our time and do as much good as we can.” McGraw also volunteers at her church and the local Election Board. Her husband also is active in volunteering.
McGraw is one of about 175 hospital volunteers. There also are 35 clergy who volunteer as chaplains and 40 volunteers in the community who make items for patients. Centerpoint’s volunteers contribute about 50,000 hours a year.
“You can make a difference,” she said. “Just give it a try.”