Wednesday, October 20, 2021

National Volunteer Month

To Your Health

Submitted Photos | One of two Volunteers of the Year, Carol McConn with Market CEO Scott Lowe.

National Volunteer month in the United States takes place in April. This month is dedicated to honoring the countless volunteers who, through their selfless contributions, improve every single community they serve.  

It could be argued that Southwest Florida’s economy depends, in large part, on an army of volunteers to keep us going. Physicians Regional Healthcare System is a grateful benefactor of our altruistic community culture—one where so many give so much simply because “it’s the right thing to do.”

Between the two campuses—Collier Boulevard and Pine Ridge—we are blessed to have almost 200 volunteers. They greet, guide and provide information to patients and visitors. They transport guests in golf carts. And sometimes, they play the vital role of patient companion to those who may not have family or friends available.

A native of Rhode Island, full-time Naples resident and six-year hospital volunteer Bob Rendine is one of these volunteers. The retired Corporate Services Division Manager greets and assists visits four hours a week at the main entrance of Physicians Regional-Collier Boulevard. For Bob, volunteerism is how he chooses to give back to his community. 

“I became aquatinted with Physicians Regional due to a health emergency I experienced in 2013,” Bob explains. “This was my first ever hospital visit. I was so impressed with the care and attention I received that my wife and I decided to volunteer our services. Our way of showing our appreciation.”

Another volunteer, Linda Topper, openly admits, “I flunked retirement. I got bored and lasted a month.” To solve the problem, Linda secured a part-time retail position, but that wasn’t enough.

Linda volunteers eight hours per week at Physicians Regional-Collier Boulevard. She assists doctors, nurses and patients on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the hospital in addition to providing valuable administrative support to the Human Resources department.

There has already been so much written about the benefits of being physically active, but Linda proves my longstanding belief that being mentally engaged is also important. 

“Volunteering at Physicians Regional is so fulfilling,” says Linda. “The patients want to talk; they want to know about you. They may not have family nearby. If I can bring some light into a sick person’s day, that’s so important. And I also get to learn more about health care from the medical staff.”

At 65, Linda Topper has no plans to slow down—and we are grateful.

On Friday, April 12, Physicians Regional was privileged to host a special luncheon at Kensington Golf and Country Club with the sole purpose of honoring all of our extraordinarily compassionate volunteers.

I am pleased to announce that Lois Riopelle and Carol McConn were named Volunteers of the Year for their tireless efforts on behalf of our medical staff and patient population. Carol, in particular, retired from Physicians Regional as Chief Nursing Officer only to return to us as one of our most passionate volunteers. 

Over the years, I have heard so many claim that a career in healthcare is a “calling”—a need to work in service of others. I have come to learn that this “calling” often extends to our volunteer team as well.  

Whatever their reason: to help others less fortunate or those without a voice, to feel valued and part of a team, to meet new people and make new friends, or even to gain confidence and self-esteem, we need you, we appreciate you, and we salute you for the joy and support you bring to those we collectively serve.

To learn about volunteer opportunities at Physicians Regional Healthcare System visit and click on “volunteering” at the top of the page.

Don’t Worry, Beau Wilkes from “Gone With The Wind” is Behind the Wheel 

Visitors to our Pine Ridge Campus on Wednesday mornings are in for a treat—though many come and go completely unaware that they just crossed paths with Mickey Kuhn.
One of Hollywood’s staple of child actors during the 30s and 40s, Mickey Kuhn appeared alongside many top Hollywood stars including John Wayne, Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart and many more. However, for four hours a week, the 86-year-old former child actor volunteers his time to help transport patients to and from the parking lots at our Pine Ridge facility.
Born in 1932, Mickey began to add to the family income at age 2 when, by chance, he was cast by Fox Studios for the movie “Change of Heart” (1934) starring the preeminent movie couple at the time, Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell. In 1939, Mickey appeared as Crown Prince Augustin in  “Juarez” starring Bette Davis and, most notably, as Olivia de Havilland and Leslie Howard’s son Beau in “Gone with the Wind.”
“One-Take Mickey” appeared in several prestigious films during the 1940s and 50s including “One Foot in Heaven” (1941), “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” (1945), “Red River” (1948), “Broken Arrow” (1950) and “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951). 
As a young man, Mickey chose to leave the motion picture industry. He was hired by American Airlines in 1967 and subsequently served as a supervisor to flight attendants. He later became an administrative manager at a Boston airport and retired from the airlines in 1995. He received the Golden Boot Award for his work in westerns in 2005.
Now in his third year as a Physicians Regional volunteer, Mickey suggests, “You get bored if you do nothing all day long. I like being outside. I get to meet all kinds of interesting people. It feels good to know I’ve helped someone and being here keeps my mind active.”
However, it doesn’t make much for Mickey to launch into his pitch. “Can someone please send us more volunteers? I can’t drive the cart every day. We need more drivers.”
Though he’s been the recipient of many thank yous from those he has helped, most don’t know that it was Melanie and Ashley’s little boy Beau who just dropped them off at their car.
When it comes to lending a helping hand, being “Mickey” seems to be more important than being “Beau” anyway.

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