If you visit the hospital and you find yourself needing a warm smile and a little comfort, go to The Shoppe at Prowers Medical Center, run by Lois Schroeder and the hospital’s auxiliary volunteers. You are bound to receive it from one of the several retired women who work there, as they have compassion and caring to spare.
While the intent of the gift shop is to raise money to purchase equipment and provide programs and education for patients, the driving force of the volunteers is to offer a helping hand when it’s most needed.
“The volunteers are enthusiastic to make sales, but that’s not the most important thing. Caring for others is their main concern,” said Lois, who manages The Shoppe at Prowers Medical Center.
The auxiliary has 60 members, with close to 10 that regularly work in the gift shop. The shop is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Nearly half of the auxiliary members are involved in handiwork—making blankets, quilts, sweaters for babies, tea towels and other crafts to sell at the shop. They are also known to simply give a blanket away if they see someone who really needs it, in the moment.
“We have homemade love blankets that we keep on hand to give people in the waiting room who need comfort, who are cold or who simply need a pick me up,” Lois said.
Since The Shoppe is near the main waiting area, the ladies of the auxiliary have a good view of who might need a little extra comfort. They offer an ear to people who need to talk, give books or small toys to children who need distraction, help people to their cars and offer an umbrella when it’s raining, visit patients whose family or friends can’t make it, and always offer a smile and a warm greeting.
Proceeds from The Shoppe and other fundraisers, including homemade noodles at the Christmas Bizarre go toward providing four nursing scholarships each year for students at Lamar Community College, sponsoring programs and patient education, and buying needed equipment for various departments at the hospital. This past year, the OB department received two rocking chairs donated by the hospital auxiliary in memory of Vivian Ply, and the hospital received automated external defibrillator (AED) equipment as a donation by the auxiliary.
“The auxiliary women are very close and they take care of each other,” Lois said.
The auxiliary meets every Monday morning from 9:00 am to 11:30 am to complete handiwork together including quilting and embroidery. A business meeting is held once a month. It costs $5 to join and they always welcome new members. If you are interested, visit with Lois in the gift shop.
Nancy Eddleman as Chair of the Auxiliary along with her officers, have brought strong leadership and new life to the group. They bring lots of energy and new ideas.
Besides running the gift shop and making homemade gifts to sell, auxiliary members also help the hospital in many other ways. Examples include being there for patients in times of need, taking them from surgery to their families in the waiting area, even making gift bags and personalized cards for chemo patients who have completed therapy treatments. Volunteers also help with hospital events that support the community, including the annual health fair and actively contributing to the Comfort Care Cart and No One Dies Alone programs recently introduced by the Patient Family Advisory Council (PFAC).
“Volunteers donate thousands of hours and are involved in many activities that enhance the hospital and the overall patient experience. They do so much behind the scenes; but most importantly, they are there for patients and families in their time of need,” Lois concluded.