Frontline Responders: Anderson Regional Medical Center volunteer Jean Willis
MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - When you walk into Anderson Regional Medical Center, you’ll see many people in red lending a helping hand. Not for the money but for a chance to make a difference in someone’s life.
“I do it because I love helping people and I’ve always loved to talk so I get to meet the nicest people both hospital staff as well as patients and their families,” said Volunteer Jean Willis.
Willis has given 9 years of her life volunteering at Anderson Regional Medical Center, dedicated to bringing joy to those who sometimes don’t feel their best.
“I feel like I can bring something to them. Sometimes it’s just a word of encouragement. Sometimes ill actually pray with them if they want me to do that. Most of the time though it’s just spending time, telling them they aren’t alone that there are people who care about them and love them and want to help them through this journey of healthcare,” said Willis.
Originally from North Carolina, Willis moved to Meridian in 1983 when her husband’s job transferred to the Queen City.
“I was a WorkForce Coordinator Project Manager at Meridian Community College. I was there for almost 30 years. When I retired, I basically did not do anything for a couple of years and then I just said I need to do something, I need to have a purpose, so I decided to volunteer. One of my friends had done it and told me about it,” said Willis.
Now Willis and her husband are a volunteer duo. She said the beauty of volunteering at Anderson is getting the opportunity to do multiple tasks like delivering flowers, helping guests, and even HR and desk work. But she said her passion is in rounding.
“I actually get to go into the patients’ rooms visit with them and their families. Find out where they’re from, what they did for a living, why they’re in the hospital and I hope by doing that I can bring some encouragement to them. Show them some love and kindness and in return, my blessings are just multiplied. I get so much more out of it I’m sure than what I give,” said Willis.
But during a time when COVID seemed to take over the world, Willis couldn’t enter the hospital let alone volunteer, a time she said was heartbreaking.
“COVID was a lonely time for a lot of people, and it was sad to see the patients by themselves in the hospital and we couldn’t be here to help, and we couldn’t help the staff and the staff was working so hard so it was just a tragedy, but beauty usually comes out of tragedy and we’ve had some beautiful stories to tell about that time,” said Willis.
One thing is for certain, those sick in bed can always count on their friends in red to share a friendly smile and helping hand.
“I hope to continue doing this as long as I’m able to do it because I get so much joy out of it and my husband gets so much joy out of it. So overall the volunteer experience is just a way to develop relationships and build relationships with people and I’m all for that,” said Willis.
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