Time. Attention. Compassion. Volunteers give so much when they donate their time — but they also get a lot in return.
Take a moment to learn more about some of the California hospital volunteers that ensure every patient gets the care they need, and find out what drives them to give.
From left to right: Jose Gomez, Barbra Tapley, Ines Hernandez
Jose Gomez — ER volunteer, Enloe Medical Center, Chico
As an Emergency Room volunteer, Jose wheels patients into the ER and keeps them company while they are checking in. He’s the first person patients and visitors make contact with as they enter.
“First impressions are essential. I strive to welcome all people coming in and assure them they are in good hands. Many are frightened or stressed. I make them comfortable and assure them that I am there if they need anything.”
Barbra Tapley — ER volunteer, Adventist Medical Center, Reedley
Barbra’s been giving her time to Adventist’s ER for three years now.
“I’m a general go-to girl. I stock rooms and run specimens to the lab. I really like seeing the action,” she said.
Her favorite part of the gig is working with those around her — and she says the staff make helping out and interacting with the nurses and doctors a joy, no matter their job title.
Ines Hernandez — ER volunteer, Adventist Medical Center, Selma
Ines has been volunteering for eight years. After a five-year run in the gift shop, she moved to the ER.
Now Ines trains other volunteers, supports ER services, and helps patients with directions around the hospital. She says she loves helping patients and families in their time of need — and enjoys that feeling of being needed.
From left to right: Robert Casterson, Sarah Ettman-Sterner (photo courtesy of Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital)
Robert Casterson — volunteer, Adventist Medical Center, Hanford
Robert is about to hit his 13-year anniversary of giving time at Adventist. A born volunteer, he even won a high school award for his service. “It’s what I know how to do and I love it,” he said.
Robert often checks in on patients and helps visitors to their rooms. But with his wealth of experience at Adventist and beyond, he also trains new volunteers.
Sarah Ettman-Sterner — Aquatic Buddy, Cottage Hospital Rehabilitation Center, Santa Barbara
Sarah has been volunteering at the Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital’s Tuohy Aquatic Rehabilitation Center for about 2 years.
But her history with volunteering began long before, when she started volunteering to fulfill a high school requirement. “It was a revelation to me to discover that by simply devoting time, attention, and compassion in order to make life better for a person in need, I would gain great life lessons.”
Sarah has volunteered for many groups, but says her favorite is her role of “aquatic buddy” at the Tuohy Aquatic Center. She considers it a privilege to coach outpatients in their physical recovery.
“I’ve learned more about patience and perseverance — what it takes to come back from the adversity of a stroke or other physical challenges that come with age and serious illness. You meet fascinating individuals that can teach you about life.”
And there’s icing on the cake to her volunteering: She’s in the water. “I get to further my sense of purpose in a relaxing setting with clear, warm water and great people, plus the added bonus of getting a great workout. It’s like a day at the beach!”
From left to right: Dylan Mayorga, Joseph Yasmeh
Dylan Mayorga — volunteer, Sharp Grossmont Hospital, La Mesa
Dylan is a high school senior and has already clocked +615 hours of volunteer service at the hospital. He serves patients, visitors, staff, and physicians in various departments and hospital locations, including Surgical Intensive Care, laboratory, blood bank, discharge and the main lobby. He has also trained at least eight newly recruited junior volunteers.
Dylan’s career goal — to become a neurosurgeon — is inspired by his late grandmother who had Alzheimer’s disease. “She passed away before I was born, but I grew up listening to stories about her from my parents and other relatives. I want to help discover a cure or, at least, find better treatment options for that awful disease,” he said.
Joseph Yasmeh — Novel Companions volunteer, Kaiser Permanente
Joseph has a deep love of books, and found good use for it as a long-time hospital volunteer. At Kaiser Permanente, he interviews patients and writes small biographies about them.
For Joseph, the pleasures of volunteering are simple: “Conversing with a lonely hospitalized patient whose family hasn't visited yet. Laughing with the patient over some funny childhood stories. Listening to their hopes, fears and passions. Overall, my current role as a volunteer involves being a listener for someone in a time of need.”
From left to right: Chris Bowman, Liora Yasmeh
Chris Bowman — Acoustic Remedies volunteer, Kaiser Permanente
Chris is a musician who spends most of his time traveling the country and playing shows with his band. “At the beginning of this year, I had a few months at home in front of me and I felt a desire to spend some of that time giving back to others,” he said.
He ended up at Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills, playing music for patients and finding a chance to talk. “Ultimately, my goal is to evoke a pleasant feeling and to spread the joy which music brings,” he said.
The best moments for Chris? When a duet spontaneously breaks out. “It’s nice to sing a song for somebody, and it’s an even warmer feeling when they’re singing it right back to you,” he said.
Liora Yasmeh — Colors of Healing volunteer, Kaiser Permanente
Liora volunteers to draw for patients to help them feel at home during a hospital stay.
She has seen first-hand how a little time can brighten up a patient’s day. “When I walked into one patient’s room, he was in a daze. I greeted him with a smile but didn't get one in return. I introduced myself to him and asked if I could draw him anything. He looked up at me with heavy eyes and said that my offer was kind but I wasn't worth his time. I quickly told him that he was worth my time. I spent my time there drawing him a dog as we spoke. When I handed the picture to him, his eyes instantaneously brightened up. When I left the room his eyes were glued to the picture of the dog — and he wore a smile from ear to ear.”
“By dedicating a slight fraction of my time, I made this person happy. Encounters like these are truthfully the most rewarding feeling in the world and are my favorite part about volunteering.”