When Jerri Snavley discovered the joy of hospital volunteer work 42 years ago, she knew she had found her calling. She has been dedicated to bringing cheer to patients and families and helping to make their hospital stays a little easier ever since.
She began her volunteer journey at a hospital in her Ohio hometown and continued it at Baptist Medical Center Beaches when she moved to the area 24 years ago. The 91-year-old said she enjoys being able to help people while also feeling a strong sense of friendship and community.
“All three of my sisters-in-law were nurses and so was my daughter, so I thought I’d try volunteering in a hospital setting. It didn’t take long for me to know it was exactly what I wanted to do when I retired and moved to Florida,” Snavley said.
Snavley has served in various capacities at Baptist Beaches, including reception, registration, administration, coordinator of the teen volunteer program, and auxiliary president. Each opportunity allowed her to gain new skills and meet new people. She has also helped on the nursing floors and assisted the hospital chaplain with pastoral care.
“A lot of the patients just want somebody to talk to. So if I go to a room to pour water for a patient or get a magazine, I always linger a little bit to see if they want to talk, and most of the time they do,” she said.
“I have spent a lot of time visiting with people. I never go into a patient’s room in a rush – I go in relaxed and give them plenty of time to open up and say what they need to say. It helps the patients a lot to be able to talk.”
When Snavley’s late husband, Paul, became ill, she continued to volunteer at Baptist Beaches three days a week while he received dialysis treatment nearby. Mr. Snavley was also a volunteer at Beaches Baptist for 20 years – it was a passion the couple shared.
Snavley attributes her spryness and spring in her step to the purpose and satisfaction she finds in her volunteer work. She said she plans to continue serving for as long as she can.
“When people ask me why I have stuck with it so long, I tell them it’s because I feel so rewarded, knowing I am doing something worthwhile,” Snavley said.
“Helping people makes you feel good on the inside and the outside, and whatever you give comes back three-fold. I’ve completed around 40,000 volunteer hours in the hospital setting and I have loved every minute of it.”
If you’re interesting in volunteering at Baptist Health, go to baptistjax.com/volunteer or call 904.202.2000.