Adele Laudal was looking for new activities after retirement. Friends suggested volunteering, and so she began a weekly volunteer shift in the Altru Alliance Gift Shop. Adele reflects on why she chose to volunteer at Altru, “I wanted to find something different than what I did in my career as a school psychologist. I wanted to give back to the community. It’s a lot of fun! I enjoy organizing and helping people find what they need. Often people are going through difficult times, and it’s nice to be able to just listen and encourage.”
Gift Shop volunteers greet and assist customers. They run the cash machine, deliver flowers, price and organize merchandise. Many gift shop volunteers, like Adele, note that volunteering provides social activity in their week. They become part of a team with staff and other volunteers. They make a difference brightening the day of patients or visitors who could use a smile.
Adele recounts a time she was volunteering when a patient stopped in the Gift Shop just after hearing some difficult news about her health. As a cancer survivor, Adele was empathetic and able to lend a listening ear. She felt their interaction made a difference for the patient. Gift Shop volunteers frequently report encounters such as these, where volunteering gives opportunity for moments of lending caring support.
Joining the Fun
Adele has volunteered at Altru since 2007. When her husband, Denny, retired from his career as a research engineer, she invited him to start volunteering as well. Denny joined Adele volunteering in the Gift Shop in 2014. Soon after, he picked up a shift as an Ambassador volunteer at Altru Professional Center.
As an Ambassador, Denny greets patients, and assists with wheelchairs and transportation if needed. He helps visitors and patients with wayfinding. Denny notes what he enjoys most about volunteering: “I like the employees I get to work with and consider them to be my friends. I enjoy meeting people. You realize how diverse Grand Forks is when you volunteer as an Ambassador. You meet so many different people. People may not be in the best mood when they aren’t feeling well, but I feel like I have the type of personality to help cheer them up.”
The ambassador role is also ideal for keeping active. Denny had major back surgery in 2016. His provider encouraged him to walk post-surgery, as much as possible. Denny notes, “As an ambassador volunteer, I’m moving all the time. One advantage is that you are always active.”
The Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS) reports there are social and health benefits to volunteering. Older volunteers especially see health benefits from volunteering, experiencing lower rates of depression, a greater sense of purpose and increased functional ability. Those that volunteer at least 100 hours per year see the greatest health outcomes. CNCS also reports a relationship between volunteers who offer social support and increased longevity.
The gift shop and ambassador roles are just two ways volunteers make a difference at Altru. Volunteers assist in numerous departments to provide an extra dimension of care for patients and families, and to support employees working to provide world-class care.
Volunteers are currently needed in the following areas: Gift Shop, Ambassadors, Pastoral Services, Blood Bank, Cardiopulmonary Rehab, Special Procedures, Radiology, Recreational Music and Pet Therapy.
The volunteer application process includes an interview, background check, health screening and orientation. Learn more about the ways you can get active and be social through Altru volunteer opportunities. Apply online today! Contact Volunteer Services for more information at 701.780.5125.