'Simple ways to make a big difference': Carilion in desperate need of volunteers

Hospital needs at least 50 volunteers

ROANOKE, Va. – Leaders at Carilion are calling on the community to help keep the hospital running smoothly.

Becky Howlett has been volunteering on the surgical floor for the past three years, taking nervous families to see patients before and after surgery.

"I care about them so I care about what I’m doing, you know, I want them to have a good experience here," Howlett said.

Howlett’s important role is personal for her.

"Right after I retired, I ended up here having open heart surgery," Howlett said. "I was impressed with everybody and everything and thought, ‘That's something I can do, it's time for me to get up and get moving.'"

Howlett survived to become one of about 230 volunteers at Carilion, but that number is not enough.

"If I had 50 viable volunteer applicants today, I could place them. We have the need," said Shanna Flowers, manager of volunteer services at Carilion.

The need is greater than ever before for two reasons: losing about 70 youth volunteers and the hospital's continued growth.

"In addition to having to fill a few holes of people who have left, the holes are getting bigger because of demand, increasing demand," Flowers said.

Flowers said volunteers provide $550,000 worth of service each year, doing everything from handing out snacks that support the youth scholarship fund to bringing in therapy dogs to calm nerves.

"Simple ways to make a big difference," Flowers said.

"I think my volunteering has meant so much more to me than I could possibly give back," Howlett said.

Flowers said they can be flexible with your schedule and only ask for three hours a day, once a week.

If you’re interested in volunteering, contact Carilion’s volunteer office, 540-981-7819.

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