Work of Heart

Posted: Monday, April 17, 2006

Work of Heart is a column devoted to spotlighting certain nonprofit organizations, the heart of area communities.

CPGH Auxiliary Inc.

Central Peninsula General Hospital Auxiliary was founded in 1971 to assist in any possible way with the hospital during its construction and after it was completed. The women helped with the plumbing and landscaping, painting and sewing items needed by the hospital. The first president was Mrs. Al Hershberger.

The mission of the auxiliary is to provide positive medical experiences through compassion, volunteer service and socializing, and to serve as liaisons. The auxiliary serves the staff, patients, visitors and families of the hospital.

In 2004 the auxiliary was incorporated. Annually, the more than 100 volunteer memberships elect the seven-member board, including a president. The current board president is Nancy Speedy. Elizabeth Wilson is the volunteer coordinator. Wilson is a paid employee of the hospital and serves as liaison between the hospital and the auxiliary board.

To become an auxiliary member, individuals must complete an application, pass a background check and participate in an eight-hour orientation. During the orientation, topics include privacy, infection control and safety.

Patricia Gilbreath, former volunteer coordinator said, “Volunteers greet anxious visitors entering the hospital, directing them to various departments. Many visitors in need of special assistance appreciate the volunteer being there to assist them. The look of appreciation is seen in the eyes of visitors coming through the door as the volunteer is there with a smile and welcome.”

Auxiliary volunteers host the hospital surgery waiting room daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Gilbreath said, “These volunteers are listening ears as family members anxiously await their loved ones who are undergoing surgery.”

Another function of the volunteers is running the gift shop, The Care Package, at in the hospital. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

There also are volunteer opportunities for youth ages 14 to 17 in the auxiliary junior volunteers program. Youth volunteers complete the same application requirements as adults. The junior volunteers are supervised as they assist in various ways, including restocking rooms, taking inventory and helping in the dietary department.

Gilbreath commented, “About 70 percent of the junior volunteers are interested in pursuing careers in the medical field.”

The auxiliary hosts a spring bazaar. The money raised is used to fund hospital requests, such as Peds-in-a-Box. These is age-appropriate toys, games and coloring books for children staying in the hospital. They also supply quilts for the beds and stickers for the walls to make the hospital room atmosphere more child-friendly.

The money is used to fund scholarships. The auxiliary annually sponsors two scholarships for area graduating seniors entering academic work in the medical field. They also fund an enhancement scholarship for a working individual interested in taking classes in order to enter a medical profession.

The funds also are used to purchase yarn for prayer shawls.

“Auxiliary volunteers and members of the community have been knitting and crocheting prayer shawls for patients in the hospital who may be in need of extra comfort during their stay at the hospital. The shawls are knit ‘with prayerful hands’ and then donated to the chaplain in the hospital. Patients who have received these shawls truly feel ‘blessed’ to receive such a wonderful gift,” said Gilbreath.

The auxiliary general membership meetings are held at 1:30 p.m. the second Wednesday every other month at the hospital. For more information, call Elizabeth Wilson at 714-4543, e-mail her at or visit the hospital at 250 Hospital Place in Soldotna.

This column is sponsored by Bridges Community Network and is written by Linda Tannehill, Bridges board member and Cooperative Extension home economist.

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