Many things have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. At Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, the temporary postponement of the volunteer program has impacted volunteers, families and staff.
Since the hospital was founded by the American Legion in 1926, volunteers have been at the forefront of the mission, helping patients. They have been advocates for children’s health and raised substantial funds to support programs and services. In many respects, volunteers have molded the mission and the organization.
More than 300 volunteers from teenagers to senior citizens, serve the hospital on a regular basis when we are not in a pandemic. There are also about 100 hospital employees who give time, before or after work, to serve in the daily parent coffee program that provides refreshments to parents during their child’s hospital stay.
Volunteer Recognition Week (April 18-24) will be celebrated from a distance this year, but it still reflects on those who have helped define what volunteerism is all about.
The Resop Family is one example of how volunteers have contributed to the success of the hospital.
When Audrey Resop and several of her close friends walked into the hospital in 1993, She knew exactly what she wanted to do. She wanted to work in the gift shop. It was her passion. Along with other volunteers, Audrey spent several days each week meeting with vendors, buying products, sorting, arranging and selling merchandise. She did whatever was necessary to make the gift shop successful and profitable, since all the proceeds went back to hospital programs and services through the All Children’s Guild.
“Audrey and her volunteer team ran the gift shop on their own for many years,” says Robin Copes, the retail services manager who is now responsible for gift shop operations. “I was the first person the hospital and Guild hired as a full-time professional manager for the gift shop, I will always remember being interviewed by Audrey and several other volunteers back in 2010. They grilled me pretty hard. You could tell by their questions that they were passionate about the gift shop and their volunteer work.
“Honestly, I wasn’t sure how well I did in that interview, but I got the job and I have really enjoyed working with all the volunteers. Audrey and her friends continued to work in the gift shop for several years after we moved into the new hospital in 2010.”
In 2013, after more than two decades and thousands of hours of service, Audrey retired. Her family agrees that her volunteer work was an important part of her life. They strongly believe she lived a long life in part because she had a fulfilling purpose. Audrey passed away at 94 in 2016.
“Audrey was positive, hard-working and passionate about the hospital and shared her passion with others,” says Ranetta Sumner, volunteer coordinator at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. “It’s evident by the way she lived her life. It impacted others.”
Daughter-in-law Judy Resop was inspired to become a volunteer at the hospital in 2007 because of Audrey’s influence. “Next to her love and devotion to her family, volunteering was her life.”
“I volunteer in Guest Services at the front desk,” Judy says. “It was all about finding my volunteer niche. It is so important that families are greeted at the front door with some calmness. This is a scary time for many of them. It’s all about caring for the people and it’s so rewarding for me. I’m looking forward to coming back when it’s safe.”
Even Judy’s late husband, Paul Resop, one of Audrey’s five sons, volunteered at the hospital, serving as a member of the trustees until he passed away in 2016.
“I specifically wanted to work with kids who could not leave their rooms, so I picked our Hematology-Oncology (Cancer) unit,” say Regina Resop, one of Audrey’s daughters-in-law. “It is so fulfilling to be there with those kids.”
“Audrey was such a huge influence on my life. I think that’s why I wanted to be a volunteer. Even my daughter, Carly Resop, volunteered while she was in high school. It’s such a good cause. I can’t wait to get back to volunteering,” Regina says.
“I knew I had big shoes to fill when I started volunteering at the hospital several years ago, because of the reputation my mother had here for so many years,” says Bill Resop, Audrey’s son. “When I see the kids that come to the activity center when I volunteer in Child Life, you would never know what they are going through. It’s awe inspiring to see these children."
“Our family has been blessed to touch many aspects of the hospital’s mission over the years, and that’s very humbling,” Bill says. “You do this from the kindness of your heart. You don’t do it for notoriety. That’s not what volunteering is all about. I think we feel like we are helping behind the scenes. That’s how our family likes to do it. We are not much for being in the limelight.”
“Once you learn that the more you give, the more you get back, that’s probably the treasure in volunteering,” Judy says. “When I’m at the hospital and someone walks by and says, ‘Thank you for being here.’ It’s a feel-good thing, it really is."
Volunteer Appreciation Week is April 18-24. Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital will be e-hosting volunteers with special messages of thanks all week and highlighting volunteers who are celebrating service milestones to the hospital. On Thursday, April 22, volunteers will enjoy a special chair yoga session and on Friday, April 23, they may participate in a “Drive-Thru” celebration designed to see and thank our volunteers personally.