Diane Quirk is a volunteer at Kaiser Permanente, serving up to 200 cups of coffee to emergency department patients each day. Photo by Donald A. Promnitz
Written by Donald A. Promnitz
Diane Quirk retired only 15 months ago from her bank teller’s job, but she’s been finding ways to stay busy in her newfound spare time. She’s taken to volunteer work at Kaiser Permanente Fresno, where she hands out coffee to those in the waiting room.
On average, this means 190 to 200 cups a day. It’s a simple gesture, but to Quirk, it’s her way to make a difference.
“This is a fun job for me and it makes me feel worthwhile,” Quirk said. “You don’t realize how happy they are with just a cup of coffee or tea.”
Quirk is one of 110 volunteers to work at the hospital. Others, meanwhile, help by manning the information desks, chauffeuring patients, helping direct people and other services that help keep Kaiser running.
“They’re at the information desk, so when our members first come into the facility, they’re the person they see, so they’re the face of Kaiser in many ways,” said Gina Rose, communications and volunteer manager at Kaiser. “We also have one in our oncology department and infusion for when they’re in having cancer treatments, which they’re more of a comfort — sometimes sitting and talking with the patients — just giving them the opportunity to have someone there with them that’s caring.”
Another volunteer, Antonia Rhodes, has taken to making knitted caps for patients going through chemotherapy. A former nursing assistant, she used to knit blankets, but has found her niche with the hats, saying that the gratitude of those who receive them is payment enough.
“I can make maybe three or four a night if I’m sitting, watching T.V.,” Rhodes said. “It does a lot of good for people who really need them, also homeless people that come in, too — anybody that needs them, I give them to.”
Meanwhile, Kaiser staff shows no sign of slowing down its volunteer efforts, always looking for new help, including the return of the therapy dog program to the hospital.
“The dogs are huge,” Rose said. “We’re consistently asked for the dogs, so we’re working very hard on getting them back.”