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McGuire Veterans Hospital

Volunteers host an ice cream social for patients on the polytrauma and spinal cord units of McGuire Veterans Hospital and for their families and staff. Team members gather for a visit each 3rd Tuesday of the month, 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. to offer hospitality, listening ears and “ministry of presence.”

Contact Madeline and Snead Luck, 405-2696.

Margaret Bloor explains the intention and effects of the McGuire Veterans Ministry.

Tell us about the McGuire Veterans Ministry. Who does it serve?

On the fourth Tuesday of each month, we meet at 5:45 PM in the Polytrauma Unit of McGuire Hospital. For the next two hours we serve the veterans who are patients on that unit as well as the Spinal Cord Unit. In addition, we offer desserts to the visiting families and the hospital staff.

We begin our evening by setting up refreshments in the dining area of the Polytrauma Unit. Each of our volunteers brings desserts such as ice cream, cookies, and cakes. Some of the patients on this floor are able to come to us but others cannot. In that case, we take dessert to their rooms. Depending on the month, we might use holiday napkins or distribute Christmas cards, Valentine cards, or Thank You cards.

After getting settled on the Polytrama Unit, a few of our volunteers will remain in this area to serve dessert and visit with patients while others load refreshments on a cart to take downstairs to the Spinal Cord Unit. Here we go to a group dining area as well as to the patients’ rooms. We also help to feed the few patients who are unable to feed themselves. It is always good to have a moment to talk with each veteran. They love the desserts and especially the companionship.

What kind of volunteer is especially helpful in this ministry? Skills? Personality?

To volunteer for this ministry, one should be comfortable in a hospital setting and especially interacting with polytrauma and spinal cord patients. No special skill is required. Being willing to offer warm smiles and helping hands to our veterans is what is most needed.

Share your impressions of how this ministry is supporting the veterans at McGuire. How is it shaping the Doers who volunteer?

Some of the veterans we serve are in the hospital for only several weeks, but many are there for months and sometimes years. The majority are not local and have no family or friends to visit them. Our ministry is able to make a huge difference in the lives of these men and women. The small offering of a special dessert and a moment of conversation always brings joy and a grateful “thank you.”

Our veterans and their families put everything on the line to protect our freedom. We may never be able to repay them for their sacrifice, but this is our way to show them just how much we appreciate all that they have done. It is extremely rewarding and such a privilege for us to have this opportunity to serve in this ministry. Each month we meet patients who touch our hearts, make us smile, and give us something to reflect upon. The phrase “thank you for your service” has taken on new meaning for our volunteers, and we leave McGuire Hospital feeling like we received more than we gave.


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