Jamestown Regional Medical Center cannot do its work without volunteer support, said Mike Delfs, JRMC President & CEO.

“We are grateful for the 90 men and women who give their time and talents to the patients in our care,” he said, “When it comes to volunteers, we can’t mask our gratitude.”

That was the theme of this year’s luncheon on Thursday, April 27. Since the pandemic, JRMC has not been able to recognize these volunteers as an in-person group.

In 2022, volunteers donated more than 5,000 hours. Their time helped save JRMC more than $160,000 in expenses.

Diane Witzig & Judy Hoyt
Diane Witzig hugs Judy Hoyt at Jamestown Regional Medical Center’s Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon on Thursday, April 27. Witzig and Hoyt are two of JRMC’s 90 volunteers.

Volunteer efforts include supporting patients in the medical center’s Welcome Center, Surgery Center, Rehabilitation and Hospice departments. The volunteers also support programs like Telecare, Driven to Care, and Kala’s Korner. Foundation Director Lisa Jackson says some volunteers do most of their work from home. For example, they sew baby blankets, infant hats, tummy pillows and walker bags.

“While patients and staff can’t always see them, they are hard at work making these comfort items,” Jackson said.

This year, 45 members of the JRMC Auxiliary celebrated its 50th anniversary. This is the third auxiliary of Jamestown Hospital, and it began when past CEO Emil Weiland asked Dorothy Chouinard to create a program to offer phone calls to “shut-ins.” Called Telecare, the program continues to offer phone calls five days a week to say “hello” to individuals who may live alone, are vulnerable due to health or age-related issues, or do not have anyone to check on them.
Over the years, the Auxiliary expanded to include eight more service programs and the present-day Gift Shoppe. The group also focuses on fundraisers.

Char Freeberg
Char Freeberg volunteers with JRMC’s Hospice program. She is one of 90 volunteers at JRMC. Collectively, those volunteers donated more than 5,000 hours of time in 2022.

“The Auxiliary is working hard to raise the remaining $50,000 toward its goal of half a million. It will likely happen within a year,” Jackson said at the luncheon. “This isn’t possible without the kindness and generosity of the people in this room.”

LaRue Odenbach is the current Auxiliary president and 2021 Auxilian of the Year. She said the group gives back to ensure the medical center can continue offering legendary care to their children and grandchildren.

“We do this work for you,” she said. “We do it so we all can have the best healthcare in the region.”

In addition to celebrating the volunteers’ hard work, JRMC also recognized the following:

  • Dorothy Chouinard, Legendary Volunteer
  • Joy Cumber & Rae Jerrel, Volunteers of the Year
  • Kay Hust, Auxilian of the Year
2023 JRMC Auxiliary Volunteer Award Honorees
JRMC celebrated its 90 volunteers at the Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon on Thursday, April 27. Among those honored are, from left, Joy Cumber, Volunteer of the Year; Kay Hust, Auxilian of the Year; Dorothy Chouinard, Legendary Volunteer of the Year.

Chouinard is the “OG,” Jackson said, meaning “old grandmother.” As a pioneer of the Auxiliary, Chouinard helped the group restart 50 years ago. Through her leadership, the Auxiliary began the Telecare program and Gift Shoppe. In the early days, she called Telecare recipients three times per week. Chouinard also volunteers for her church and the Orphan Grain Train.

“I got involved because I liked to do it,” Chouinard said. “It gave me something to do.”

Of all the volunteers, these two are among the top three in terms of number of hours donated, Jackson said. Together, they create baby hats, burp cloths, stockings, walker bags, infant bereavement gowns and other items for patients in need.

Hust serves as the secretary of the JRMC Auxiliary and volunteers at the Surgery Center desk. She also makes “tummy pillows” for post-operative care. This year, she arrived early, stayed late, and even took on extra shifts as weather and illness made it challenging for other volunteers to fulfill their roles.

“I truly enjoy the work at the Surgery Center desk,” she said. “I do not mind that we come in early. The work is rewarding.”

Jackson credits the volunteers as one of the reasons JRMC continues to receive awards as a Best Places to Work and Top 100 Critical Access Hospital.

“JRMC is an award-winning destination of care for many reasons,” she said. “One of them is the support from our volunteers and the community. Your commitment to patient care and selfless acts of kindness helps us improve patient care every day.”

In 2022, JRMC received both the Top 20 Critical Access Hospital award from the National Rural Hospital Association as well as a Top 100 Best Places to Work award from Modern Healthcare.

At the luncheon, JRMC also recognized the following for their hours of service.

100 hours:

Dave Smette accepts an award for 100 hours of service from JRMC President & CEO Mike Delfs. Smette serves on the JRMC Foundation Board and as a volunteer in the Surgery Center.
  • Laurie Brown
  • Mary Engels
  • Sharon Exner
  • Charlotte Freeberg
  • Mary Jane Gullingsrud
  • Audrey Heupel
  • Kay Hust
  • Arlyce Klein
  • Joyce Nienow
  • Sally Siefken
  • David Smette
  • Dixie Supler
  • Donna Wanzek

500 hours:

  • Bonnie Allickson
  • Loretta Jung
  • LaVina Kleese
  • Priscilla Kungel
  • Marlene Stafford
  • Diane Witzig

1,000 hours:

  • Diane Witzig