OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Each week, retired Air Force veteran Carol Mentzer volunteers up to 20 hours a week at Ocean Springs Hospital, helping to bring a smile and compassion to patients. She helps make South Mississippi strong.
The 68-year-old former Air Force Chief Master Sergeant has many talents and they are all put to good use at the hospital. Some say her best talent is her neverending smile and special compassion for people.
Carol Mentzer loves her job - or should we say, jobs - at the hospital.
After more than six years of volunteerism, Mentzer was recognized Tuesday by co-workers and hospital administrators. They thanked her with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Many days Mentzer volunteers in the surgical unit, and she explains what is done.
"In same-day surgery, we assist patients that are coming in for surgical procedures or cardiac catheterization, any type of treatment."
Sandy Hoover, an RN manager says, Mentzer always leaves a lasting impression on others.
"Every morning she helps our surgery patients get settled," Hoover. "We love her."
Mentzer says volunteering is in her blood.
"I like to give back to the community," said Mentzer. "This community has been so precious to me."
It's a community of patients who need support in tough times explained Mentzer.
"Nobody wants to come into the hospital for whatever reason, and it's nice to be able to give them the feeling that we care what happens to them."
According to Mentzer, it's not just the patients that need attention, it's also the broken-down wheelchairs.
"Our wheelchairs, we don't like for them to fold up. So, I'm going to place a screw in there, and screw the seat to the frame."
Mentzer long time skills from being a Chevron machinist comes in handy around the hospital.
"I don't have to hire too many people to come to my house to fix things. I enjoy doing it myself."
She also enjoys guiding patients through the halls in those wheelchairs.
"Everybody has a different journey in life. And it's interesting to find out a part of their journey, and actually be a part of their journey."
Mentzer is involved in many aspects of the hospitals. She even volunteers at the front desk.
"The people that work up here know where everything is in the hospital."
That help is always appreciated by hospital management including Administrator Heath Thompson.
"I can't imagine our hospital or health system without our volunteers. They are a critical part of our team, our entire clinical team."
Being a part of that team is all that Mentzer wants at this point in her life.
There are about 100 volunteers just like Mentzer at Singing River Health System, and they contribute more than 40,000 hours of their time each year. If you'd like to help make south Mississippi strong by becoming a hospital volunteer, you can stop by the hospital or apply online.