Memorial Regional Health honors ‘Pink Ladies’ volunteer of the year
CRAIG — Visitors to Memorial Regional Health Medical facilities often encounter a warm smile from a lady dressed in a pink coat — one of the members of The Memorial Hospital Volunteer Auxiliary.
“Our volunteers, fondly referred to as ‘pink ladies,’ give nearly 6,000 hours of service a year,” according to the Memorial Regional Health website.
An annual dinner is one-way MRH says “thank you” to these special volunteers. During the dinner, auxiliary members announce the person they’ve voted “Volunteer of the Year.”
For the second year in a row, that honor went to Pink Lady President Linda Riley.
“I was thrilled that they think I do a great job and that they appreciate me,” Riley said.
She assumed leadership of the group in January, a post volunteer Anna Rippy had held for about 10 years prior.
“We are very proud of Linda and lucky to have her. Her passion for MRH can be seen in her many accomplishments,” said MRH CEO Andy Daniels. “She implemented an annual Christmas sale event that our employees love and increased sales, which help support MRH Auxiliary as they fund projects to support our patients.”
In addition to greeting people entering the hospital and running the gift shop, the ladies guide visitors to patient rooms, deliver flowers, help the lab with projects, help various departments with office tasks and run an activity cart on Tuesdays and Thursdays for patients in transition care and a beverage cart for patients.
“We’re a helpful group. It is a rewarding experience,” Riley said. “I enjoy being there and interacting with staff and patients. I feel like we do a good service for the hospital and that people appreciate us.”
Almost all of the money raised by Pink Ladies at the hospital gift shop through quilt raffles and other fundraisers is returned to the hospital. One exception is money used to fund a $1,000 second-year nursing scholarship.
“One of the big things we do is offer a nursing scholarship to a student living in Moffat County who is a second-year nursing school student,” Riley said. “Last year, we only had two applications, so we gave both a scholarship, and both graduated the program.”
Another recent contribution helps children headed into surgery.
“We just purchased the coolest little jeep for little kids. … A study has shown if they can drive themselves into surgery, in this little Jeep, they are much happier,” Riley said.
She said she isn’t sure when the tradition of wearing pink coats got started, but she can remember that, in the 1960s, “the pink ladies were in charge” when she visited a grandparent at the hospital.
Times have changed. While a strong, caring group, the number of volunteers has dwindled to about 10.
“We do the best we can,” Riley said. “We try to do everything that we did before. Instead of two shifts at the front desk, we have one long shift. At the gift shop, we’ve gone to one person every day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.”
She believes that, because most people — mothers as well as fathers — have to work, there is simply less time and energy for younger people to volunteer.
“It really limits us in who applies and has the time,” she said.
Becoming a Pink Lady requires a minimum commitment of four hours each month and a simple application process.
“It takes a warm body and a willing spirit. We are very flexible on time and day. We will work with someone,” Riley said.
In return, Pink Ladies earn their coats and a special place in the heart of the hospital.
“We appreciate all of our volunteers, and I should add: If you would like to be a volunteer, please consider giving Linda a call or stopping by the front desk at the hospital,” Daniels said.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.
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