Despite the circumstances, when Ruth McDade’s husband died at South Nassau Communities Hospital after an illness in late 2007, she said she found it to be “a positive experience.” Impressed by the care he received, she said, and looking for new meaning and direction in life, she decided to volunteer with the hospital.
More than nine years later, and McDade, 72, has clocked roughly 5,000 hours of service, helping with clerical work, delivering supplies and visiting patients, “wherever I’m needed,” she said. And it has been noticed, in 2017 she received the hospital’s 5 Star Award for exceptional dedication, and this year, at South Nassau’s annual commemorative luncheon celebrating its volunteers, she was honored for hitting the 5,000-hour milestone.
McDade said her 37 years of clerical experience working at an insurance agency gave her the tools to serve in her position as captain in the hospital’s volunteer office, as well as serving on the Patient and Family Advisory Council and the Patient Experience Team.
She was one of nearly 400 volunteers honored at the April 18 luncheon. The event was a celebration of 62 years of volunteerism at the hospital, which since 1956 has invited people to become part of its volunteer staff.
The requirement? “The need to want to help,” according to Anne Marie Fenandez, director of volunteer services at South Nassau, adding, “They have a lot of heart.”
“It’s my favorite event,” hospital board Chairman Joseph Fennessy told the crowd at the luncheon. “You folks, you may not realize it, but you’re a big deal.”
And citing statistics from the Independent Sector, a coalition of non-profits dedicated to philanthropic services, Richard Murphy, chief executive officer at South Nassau, said the work the volunteers do in New York is worth about $28 per hour, which among the nearly 44,000 volunteer-hours logged in 2017 saved the hospital roughly $1.2 million. “We could not operate the hospital without all that you do,” he said before presenting McDade with her award.
But for McDade, it’s more than just work, “I love it,” she said. “It gives me a purpose and direction.”