Volunteer Recognition Corner
Sue Manah Buteau
As a child I was fortunate to grow up with a fantastic mom and great aunties. I had many of them - eighteen! I loved them all, and I felt loved by all of them, but I didn't realize how wonderful they were until I was an adult myself. Only then did I observe how giving they were within their families and communities. For the most part they were quiet women, yet they were known within their communities because they were giving, generous, kind contributing members of society. They often moved quietly helping others, supporting people in need, giving sage advice when asked, and working hard to make life better for others. They were strong women, and they taught me to be strong, regardless of the challenges I might face in life.
For me, volunteering is simply something that I was raised to do. In school, at church, or as a Girl Scout, I learned to be part of a team, to create a strong dynamic by sharing responsibility. I got along with others because my mother taught me that I didn't have to like someone, I didn't have to respect someone, but I should always treat all persons with respect. It was a great value to live by throughout my lifetime, through 40 years of career, within my family and neighborhood, and in the organizations of which I've been a member. It was especially important when I spent time in the federal prison as a parent educator. All I really knew about the prisoners I worked with was that they were men, and they were parents. Some had life sentences and might never see their children again. Others hoped to join their families at some point, or at least have relationships with their children. Among them there were thieves, murderers, substance abusers, and abusers of other people, including children. As I sat with them in the classroom, I knew nothing about them except what they might choose to tell me. I treated them all in a respectful way, and in return, I was treated with respect.
I've had a rich life. I have a wonderful friend and husband. Andy and I have been married for 47 years, and we have three great kids, great daughter and sons-in-law, and eight grandchildren who are my motivation for living to be very old! Watching them maneuver through life is such a joy. I've had a great career teaching both children and adults, and enjoyed friendships. I've also enjoyed great medical care right here at Littleton Regional Healthcare. Reimbursing LRH goes far beyond insurance and co-pays. It means giving back in a more significant way. It means giving personally as a volunteer. The payback for me, however, is to meet new, interesting people, knowing that I'm helping others, having fun, and (as a retiree) feeling that I still have purpose.
I joined the volunteer team over ten years ago when I helped to create the LRH Family Support Team. I served on the Family Support Team at Weeks Medical Center for 15 years. There was interest in bringing the same team to LRH, so over ten years ago I worked with Kris van Bergen to establish a training program, recruit members, train volunteers, and incorporate the team as part of the volunteer department.
If you haven't heard of the Family Support Team, I'm not surprised. We've always worked as a quiet presence with family members and friends of patients being treated in the ED for a sudden serious illness, a traumatic injury, or individuals who are reaching the end of life. If you have ever been alone in a waiting room, wondering how things were happening for your loved one on the other side of a closed door, then you will understand how great it could be to have someone sit with you. A Family Support Team member is someone who can support you, provide practical information when you don't know what to do next, help you get in touch with other family members, or who will be with you when you hear tough news from the medical staff.
Serving on the Family Support has been the most meaningful volunteer activity of my life. In addition, I've volunteered in medical records and at the Lower Atrium Information Desk. I've always been so impressed with the leadership of the volunteer department here at LRH. If you aren't a volunteer yourself, consider exploring all of the wonderful opportunities. You'll be so glad you did.