Sexton recorded her 12,000th hour of volunteer work for the hospital in 2012, and she joked about once running the gift shop at the 1420 N. Tracy Blvd. hospital when she first started helping in 1981.
“A friend of mine dragged me into it,” said the retired North School teacher. “I enjoy the work, and I’ve done pretty much everything there is to do at the hospital.”
Sexton and about 50 fellow volunteers were served lunch by hospital administrators and staff at the 8350 Linne Road winery as an appreciation day, according to Tammy Shaff, the community benefits manager who oversees the volunteer program. The day coincided with National Volunteer Week, which lasts from April 21 to 27.
“They do so much for the hospital on a daily basis,” Shaff said. “We want to make sure they feel appreciated for all their service.”
By manning the information desk, ushering people from room to room and from the hospital to their cars, managing the gift shop, running a beverage cart, handing out information to patients and serving as liaisons between staff and patients, Shaff said the volunteers save staff time and make Sutter Tracy a better place.
“It enables us to provide better care to patients and better service to their families,” she said, before rushing to the kitchen to deliver plates of food. “That’s our goal. And these volunteers, with their smiles on their faces, help us do that.”
Shaff said that since the hospital turned the volunteer program into a managed part of hospital operations in 2003 — which was once the separate Sutter Tracy Community Hospital Foundation Auxiliary — participation has strengthened, especially among men and younger people.
Only four or five men were on an active roster of 50 in 2002, she said, but now 14 percent are men, and 8 percent are college students.
One of the longest-tenured volunteers at Wednesday’s lunch was Donna Stone. The 81-year-old started volunteering for what was then the auxiliary in 1962, three years after moving to Tracy and long before what was then Tracy Community Memorial Hospital was taken over by Sutter Health in 1993.
“I’ve done it for so many years. My family keeps asking me when I’m going to retire,” Stone said. “When I feel old enough to retire, I guess. We see a lot of things that we can help with in a place that can help you.”
Stone now manages the gift shop, and has recorded more than 10,000 hours of service. She takes pride in helping people find the right item to lighten a visit, and said the hospital has “always been a great place to be.”
Stone recalled a gift shop volunteer from Patterson who stopped helping because of a cancer diagnosis, but would return to visit because she missed her fellow workers.
“We all help each other,” Stone said. “We’re a great family, and if you don’t have any outlet for expressing yourself, volunteering is one of the best things you can do. As long as you’re helping others, it can make you feel good.”
• Contact Jon Mendelson at 830-4231 or email@example.com.