Small But Mighty

Dexter Auxilians provide valuable services delivered with a smile

MelbaShirleyVolBaker, Mary Norman and Shirley Zimmerman are sisters – three of nine children raised in Bernie. As sisters, they share many common interests, but perhaps none as strong as their dedication to Southeast Health Center of Stoddard County where they are active with the hospital Auxiliary.

Melba has been volunteering since 1998, Mary since 2006 and Shirley since 2001. Mary and Shirley’s volunteer history goes even further back, before the hospital Auxiliary was formed in 1966.

In the early 1970s, the women also volunteered with the American Red Cross, housed at the hospital. Their work included changing beds, combing patients’ hair and even helping out in the hospital laundry. Melba serves as buyer for the hospital’s small but well-stocked Auxiliary Gift Shop and works diligently to make sure a good variety of items is available. She enjoys helping customers find just the right gift for their special patient.

In her spare volunteer time, Melba pots cuttings from her garden or the gardens of friends and families, nurturing them until they are ready to come to the Gift Shop. Once at the Gift Shop, sister Shirley adds decorative bows to live arrangements. She also is part of a small group of women who make silk arrangements, including small silks that are sent home with patients as they are released from the hospital.

Mary selects greeting cards for the Shop, serves as Auxiliary historian and is the “Sunshine Chair,” making sure cards are sent to fellow Auxilians when they need a spot of sunshine in their lives.

In addition to her regular volunteer duties, Shirley puts her excellent seamstress skills to work when needed, altering patient bed curtains or other items.

Willingness to Volunteer

MaryNormanVolMelba and her husband Jim returned to Dexter in 1996 after a 40-year career absence. They built a new home and by 1998, “I had everything done in the new house and had stayed home about as long as I could. So I brought myself to the hospital, spoke to one of the volunteers and shared my willingness to volunteer. She handed me a jacket on the spot.”

“We have a wonderful group of Auxilians who do so much for the hospital,” Shirley adds. “We would love to have some younger people join our ranks.”

For Mary, the reason for sharing time with others is simple. “I volunteer to do service to my Lord and my fellow human beings.”

Putting Funds to Good Use

In addition to proceeds from the Auxiliary Gift Shop operation, the Auxiliary hosts several fundraisers. Each year, this allows the group to give seven Stoddard County schools $750 each for students who plan to pursue a career in healthcare.

Auxiliary funds also have been utilized to remodel the hospital kitchen with new, much-needed equipment, provide a treadmill for the Rehabilitation Department and purchase a comfortable chemotherapy chair for Infusion Services.

Regional Marketing Manager and Auxiliary Coordinator Amy Ellinghouse says the entire staff, patients and families appreciate the Dexter volunteer team. “Our Auxilians play an important role at our hospital,” she notes. “Their positive impact in the small hospital setting is felt on a daily basis. I enjoy getting to know each of them in their various roles. They each take pride in knowing that they make a difference in the lives of our patients, visitors and employees.” 

Melba, Mary and Shirley admit to being tireless advocates for the joys of volunteering and encourage others to follow suit. Says Mary, “When it comes to sharing time with others, everyone has something to offer.”