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Meet The Johns Hopkins Hospital's Volunteer of the Year
Three days a week, four hours a day, you’ll find Alethia Boone in the lobby of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building helping patients register using the new electronic kiosks.
Along with instructions, Boone dispenses kind words and a comforting presence. For this, she earns nothing more than the gratitude of anxious patients and the praise of her supervisor.
On April 11, The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Department of Volunteer Services will honor her as its Volunteer of the Year at a special luncheon for the 115 individuals who gave more than 100 hours in 2013. (Boone put in 329.)
The event is the grand finale of the hospital’s annual Volunteer Appreciation Week, which honors the hospital’s 1,421 volunteers.
“Our volunteers make a huge contribution to the excellent patient- and family-centered care that we provide, and they deserve to be recognized and known by our community,” says Kia-Lillian Hayes, volunteer services manager. “I absolutely love working with such compassionate, selfless people.”
“I just want to be a part of something,” Boone says. “I like to be around people. This is my family here.”
Boone has a bit of history with The Johns Hopkins Hospital. She began working in the hospital’s nutrition department in 1969 and retired in 2007. Two years later, her Nutrition supervisor asked her to come back as a volunteer. She has been serving in various roles ever since, racking up 1,277 hours so far.
Boone plays a valuable role for patients, says Kim James, supervisor of the Oncology Registration Welcome Center. “A lot of times, patients just want a little conversation. She’ll give a word of encouragement,” James says.
Most of the hospital’s volunteers are interested in patient care and work in busy units like endoscopy, the Emergency Department and the Breast Center, Hayes says. Many also request to work with children or to help out with paperwork or in a research lab. Some volunteers bring their animals to provide pet therapy. Many volunteers are retirees like Boone, but the largest numbers are high school and college students hoping to gain experience in health care and discover if it’s the right field for them.
Volunteers are carefully screened and then matched with a department that has requested assistance and provides their training. They’re asked to commit at least 75 hours total, but most provide much more, Hayes says.
After a few years volunteering in nutrition, Boone switched to filing in the volunteer office, and then moved to Weinberg last year. She says she understands how little kindnesses can help ease patients’ path when they arrive.
“This is my gift God gave me, to be a people person,” Boone says.