Rewards come easy for volunteer

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 19, 2004

By SUE ELLEN ROSS – Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – Nathalie T. Vicknair practiced the fine art of caring and empathy long before she came to volunteer at River Parishes Hospital three years ago.

Aa a school bus driver for the St. John Parish School System, she not only greeted each day with a smile, she kept an open and patient mind regarding the students.

Her duties consisted of transporting students to and from school each day, and also driving them to special events and basketball games.

When driving the athletes to their games, she didn’t just drop them off in front of the sports facility. She went inside, and watched the games from start to finish.

Vicknair relates a story that happened many years ago at a basketball game held in a far-away town.

“No one from our school showed up at the game, I was the only one,” she said. “The players kept on coming up to me during the game, telling me how much they appreciated me being there. I was glad to do it. I love sports, and the boys needed support.”

Vicknair retired from her driving job in January 2002, after 22 years of service. A few of her friends were working at the hospital in a volunteer capacity and suggested that she give it a try.

When the Reserve resident first started her duties, she was placed in the Admitting Department, then ‘on the floor’, and currently, in the Business Office. She enjoyed each department and has nothing but positive comments about the staff she worked with.

Vicknair was also pleasantly surprised with the acknowledgement given to the volunteers. The hospital’s annual recognition dinner and Christmas party for those that serve is a plus to the job, she added.

“I didn’t expect a reward in return,” she said. “These events are really a nice gesture.”

Although she is officially retired from her job as school bus driver, she occasionally fills in for emergencies. Adding in family time with her two sons, Chad, of LaPlace and Cobi of Harrington, TX and her four grandchildren, she doesn’t have a lot of free time. She visits the hospital one day a week, but would like to come more often, she added.

Vicknair’s granddaughters, ages 11 and 9, see firsthand the benefits of their grandmother’s service.

“We always talk about my time at the hospital. Now both of them want to volunteer here when they are older,” she laughed. “They see how happy I am.”

For information on volunteering at River Parishes Hospital, call Claudette Henry at 651-1482.