JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas --
Every day, more than 170 volunteers serve in a variety of positions throughout the 59th Medical Wing on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.
Volunteers who range in age from 18 to 94 and work in about 25 different areas within Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center including clinics like the pharmacy, ophthalmology, and delivering internal mail and packages throughout the facility.
“In Fiscal Year 2017, [volunteers] gave us over $1 million worth of free labor,” said Terryca Fuller, Office of Volunteer Service director. “My two information desks are always busy. The C desk [in the main atrium near the entrance to the C wing] mainly takes more phone calls. Right now, they’ve picked up over 17,700 phone calls so far this year. My A desk volunteers see the majority of people who have questions. They’ve seen more than 66,350 people since January.”
Fred Baker – one of the volunteers who is regularly at the A desk during the week – won the 2017 Joint Base San Antonio Volunteer of the Year Award for his work on creating a map with the locations for each clinic in WHASC and a 10-page phone listing for staff and volunteers..
Another more visible volunteer position is driving the Step Savers carts.
There is a critical need for individuals to volunteer to drive the carts for patients who need assistance getting from their car to WHASC. In some cases, volunteers will drive a patient out to the front gate if they need to catch a bus off base.
“It’s important to help wherever you can,” said Darlene Neubert, Step Saver cart driver since 2014. “I love this. I pick up people with packages, stroke patients, and anyone who looks like they might need to save some steps. It’s a good feeling to help people who need help.”
There are also two dentists, two nurses, and two doctors who are either active duty or retired military members who volunteer in their spare time. Individuals looking to volunteer go through the same process as regular employees.
“Volunteers who come in get the opportunity to browse through a binder with available opportunities,” Fuller said. “Clinics and other ‘employers’ have job listings with expectations and qualifications. This helps volunteers understand what will be expected of them if they choose to purse the opportunity. The in-processing itself is tedious, so the ones go through it, they’re serious about volunteering and we appreciate that.”
Individuals who are interested in becoming a volunteer for the 59th MDW can walk in to the Volunteer Services office at WHASC or can call or email requesting an appointment.
“I’ve been volunteering for about seven months now,” said Senior Airman Garret J. Kohl, 531st Intelligence Squadron service member. “I do just about everything. I do patient escort with individuals who have mobility restrictions, wheelchairs for the older veterans who need help getting around. I pass on information to people who come up to the front desk as well as people who call and Step Saver driving as well.”
Volunteers are in virtually all of the clinics throughout WHASC and at 59th MDW facilities across JBSA-Lackland.
“I’ve got some really hardcore volunteers who’ve been here forever,” Fuller said. “They’re a tremendous set of people. They’re here to help. They inspire me because of the fact they’re staying young by staying busy and enjoying themselves.”
Anyone who wishes to learn more about volunteer opportunities with the 59th Medical Wing can go to www.59mdw.af.mil/About/Volunteer-Services.