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2014 Volunteers of the Year put focus on UMMC patients, families

Published on Thursday, October 30, 2014

By: Dustin Barnes

Published in News Stories on October 30, 2014

From offering directions to giving a kind word or smile to patients and visitors, volunteers at the University of Mississippi Medical Center have long been celebrated for their selfless service to all who enter through the hospitals’ doors.

The hundreds of volunteers are a vital part of the Medical Center and its operations, while patients and families rely on their assistance to navigate the maze of hallways and offices on campus.

This year, two volunteers have been recognized for their outstanding service, one from the Adult Hospital and another who works at Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children and Winfred L. Wiser Hospital for Women and Infants.


Sam Sprow, a sophomore at Mississippi State University, was selected for his work at the Adult Hospital’s Emergency Department and Guest Services Desk, said Jane Ellen Wolf, director of Volunteer Services.

“I was proud and excited that our representative from the adult side was a college student, because we have so many younger, high school and college students who volunteer here,” said Wolf.

Sprow said his time volunteering over the summer break from school was a way to do something useful with his free time. 

“I really didn’t have much to do with my time,” said the self-diagnosed shy student who is considering a career in medicine. “And I thought if anything else, I should give my time away.”

Over the two-month span of volunteering this summer, Sprow gave 118 hours to UMMC during which he said he witnessed the power of listening to patients and offering supportive words. It’s a viewpoint that led him to choose to volunteer again over his Christmas break in December.

“I thought, ‘I don’t have to wait to get a degree to serve people who need medical care. I can go ahead and do that now’,” said Sprow.


The other recognized volunteer, retiree Willie Brown, has become a notable fixture along the halls of Batson and Wiser hospitals, said volunteer coordinator Angela Compere.

“Willie is just so pleasant to work with, willing to do whatever,” she said, pointing out he arrives every Wednesday at 5 a.m. since he started volunteering more than two years ago. 

In addition to working at the desks of the pediatric ICU and pediatric operating room, Brown also takes it upon himself to keep the floors of the hospitals stocked with snacks.

It’s not Brown’s first time to be recognized for his work, but the Hewlett-Packard retiree said he’s been blessed with a healthy life and volunteering, the most sincere form of customer service, helps keep him grounded.

“My reward is listening to some of these people, talking to them and just witnessing the positive attitude they’ve got,” said Brown.

When families receive hard news, Brown said he remembers his face is one of the first they’ll see. 

“A lot of times they just need someone to talk to,” said Brown. “A lot of these parents, this is their second home. So anything you can do to get a smile out of them, that’s what’s worth it.”

Even as Wolf and her crew continue building the numbers of volunteers at UMMC, the need for more is always present. 

Those who want to get involved can contact Marsha Burton, volunteer coordinator for the Adult Hospital at (601) 815-7001 or mbburton@umc.edu.

For volunteer opportunities at Batson or Wiser, contact coordinator Angela Compere at (601) 815-8277 or acompere@umc.edu.


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