GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Memorial Auxiliary has less than 100 members, but still accomplishes amazing feats. While helping run Memorial Hospital in Gulfport, they also raise a lot of money for their charitable causes.
Recently, the group received the prestigious HAVE Award for their community service. It's an honor reserved for just four auxiliary groups in America. This week, Memorial Hospital celebrates their extraordinary volunteers.
Memorial's Auxiliary donated 21,000 hours to the hospital last year. Auxiliary President Dick Westover is proud of his small crew of 98, who does so much good.
Three ladies run the hospital's gift shop, which also funds their scholarship programs. Last year, the Auxiliary gave almost $200,000 in grant money to local college students.
Gloria Fore played a big part in that with her 6500 hours of service. She said volunteering is actually good for her marriage of 54 years.
"My husband is retired and so am I, and sometimes that, you know, makes for a little too bit much togetherness," Fore said with a smile. "So it gives you a nice break."
Auxiliary members may help someone find the perfect gift for a sick friend, deliver flowers to a new family or help visitors find their way around. But they're also trusted with some of the most delicate and difficult times in the ER or Surgery Waiting Areas.
"There have been some sad moments. Sometimes it doesn't always go the way they want it to," Westover said.
But they are there to hold a hand, give a hug or just listen. And the paid staff of Memorial is extremely grateful to this group of mostly retired folks who brighten up every room they enter and make a hospital feel more like a home.
"I think all of us here, the employees, the physician staff here, we all kind of feel like family. At least that's how I feel," Westover said.
If you'd like to join Memorial's Auxiliary, just call (228) 867-4117.