Published 12:00 am Monday, November 13, 2006

River Parishes Hospital seeking more local helpers



LAPLACE – Just over a year ago Earl Mannina spent many days at River Parishes Hospital, helping take care of his wife, who had cancer.

Eventually his wife died, but during that time, Mannina saw how helpful volunteers at the hospital had been to his family.

Shortly after that, the retired school principal decided to become one of the RPH volunteers, and said he has found a great way to give something back to those who helped him in his time of need.

&#8220We were in the hospital with my wife for 51 days, but after my wife passed away, I wanted to give something back myself,” he said. &#8220And volunteering here has been most rewarding. I find that I get a lot more back than I give.”

Mannina, now 70, was an educator for 32 years in the area, and even now wanted to do something to help in the community during his retirement years.

He specifically asked to work in the surgical waiting unit, where he can ease the concerns of family or friends, with information and a caring individual on hand, during their time of need.

Now, River Parishes is looking to expand on their group of 25 volunteers, to add more of what they see as &#8220extra care” for their patients.

The hospital is seeking anyone 18 or over who would like to give a minimum of four hours a week as a volunteer. Jobs include things such as transporting patients, distributing supplies, delivering

meals, answering phones, greeting and keeping family and friends informed during surgery, and assisting in specific areas.

&#8220We can tailor a job as a volunteer to whatever you feel comfortable doing,” Marketing Director Carrie Fisk said. &#8220You can have patient contact or not, depending on what you want to do.”

Marie Guidry has been a hospital volunteer since RPH opened 24 years ago.

&#8220I was mostly at home with my kids, but then when they got older, I heard the hospital was opening and figured it was a good opportunity for me to help out,” she said.

Since then, Guidry has worked in the gift shop and surgery waiting, giving 20 hours a week or more. With her husband dying five years ago, she now remains very busy.

&#8220I have loved doing this, and it feels so good to be helping people in this way,” she said. &#8220God has been good to me, so I wanted to do something in return.”

Dottie Millet, now a volunteer for 10 years after she retired from 20 years of working from Gulf Oil, never married or had kids, and found the volunteering to be the perfect thing for her in retirement years.

&#8220It’s something to do, and it’s a chance to be out meeting people,” she said.

Fisk said the hospital is looking to add 10 to 15 more volunteers to give more personalized service and attention.

&#8220Volunteers get a lot of benefits such as free meals when they work, free flu shots, participating in our company events and a service award dinner,” she said. &#8220While the majority are senior citizens, we are interested in volunteers of all ages.”

Anyone interested in volunteering should call Fisk at 651-1499.