CAMC's volunteers help keep the hospitals running smoothly. Last year 218 community members, ages 15 to 95, collectively gave more than 31,000 hours of their time to CAMC. Many CAMC volunteers have gone on to accept other roles in the health system, including Christena Ross and Cathy Ritchey.
Christena Ross, MSM and current director of research and grants administration, became a junior volunteer at the age of 13, and continued until she graduated from college.
"When I started we were called 'candy stripers' and wore red and white striped dresses," said Ross.
During her time as a junior volunteer, Ross worked in departments all over the hospital. Her duties included everything from running the gift shop and delivering flowers to transporting patients and staffing the pediatric playroom to filing, registration and answering phones.
"My favorite 'job' was working in the pediatric playroom," she said. "I always volunteered for that area as much as I could."
Cathy Ritchey began volunteering at CAMC a few years ago, and is now a staff assistant in the clinical trials department.
"When I first started, I volunteered in epidemiology doing hand hygiene data entry," said Ritchey. "Then flu season started, and I worked in the flu clinics entering data into the state database."
Because of her good work, she was elected to the office of secretary of the General Hospital Auxiliary. After that ended, she volunteered at Women and Children's Hospital doing data entry and organizing files. During that same time she spent one day each week in clinical trials, training on the clinical conductor program.
"The staff assistant in clinical trials accepted another job and someone was needed five days a week to fill that position," Ritchey said. "So, I was offered a contract job as staff assistant."
Both ladies began as volunteers, but have gone on to become valued employees. Getting started as a junior volunteer helped Ross decide to pursue a career in health care.
"Like most people that enter health care, I had a desire to help others," Ross said. "I wanted to make sure the career I chose would make a difference. I also enjoyed the diverse jobs and activities throughout the hospital.
The most important lesson I learned as a junior volunteer was that I couldn't stand the sight of blood, or the thought of sticking someone with a needle! This insight led me to the business side of health care."
Ross has worked at CAMC since 2000. She has worked as a fundraiser, educator and now oversees research and grants administration.
"CAMC offers a rare opportunity – you can completely change careers without ever leaving the same employer," she said. "Other than for a few years right out of college, my life - volunteer and work - has been associated with CAMC."
Ritchey offers advice for someone who is unsure about becoming a volunteer. "The best advice I can give someone who is thinking about volunteering is to take the free classes and learn as much as you can during your volunteer work," she said. "Every department you work in has something to teach you. All the knowledge you gain will help you in the future."
"Junior volunteers learn the 'spirit' of volunteering at an early age, and that can carry throughout their lives," Ross said. "It did for me. Volunteering has always been a part of my adult life."
For more information about volunteering at CAMC, visit camc.org/volunteer, or call (304) 388-7426.