Volunteer finds her calling at hospital

‘Putting in a few hours can do so much for someone else’

In 1978, Lawrence volunteer Hilda Enoch approached her neighbor with an offer she couldn’t refuse.

Lawrence Memorial Hospital volunteer Joanne Hurst takes a phone call from the registration desk next to fellow volunteer Corinne Geddings on Friday, April 6. Hurst has been volunteering with LMH for nine years and prior to that served on the board of trustees.

Volunteers were needed to help in low-income nursery schools, and Enoch knew Joanne Hurst would be perfect for the job. Hurst didn’t know it then, but that day marked the beginning of a dedication to volunteering that would last a lifetime.

“I loved volunteering and what it brought to my life; putting in a few hours can do so much for someone else,” Hurst says. “That was some 40 years ago.”

Hurst’s “love affair,” a term she uses to describe her relationship with Lawrence Memorial Hospital, began in 1995, when she started the first of two four-year terms on the LMH board of trustees.

Since then, she has held a plethora of volunteer posts at the hospital, netting her a nomination for the United Way Roger Hill Volunteer Center’s Wallace Galluzzi Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award. In 2011 alone, Hurst served 563 hours at the hospital, according to Allyson Leland, director of volunteer services for LMH.

“She’s really walking it and talking it and living it — involved in all aspects of our community,” Leland says. “Her community involvement, looking at the bigger picture, pervades her whole life experience. This woman has had major accomplishments in her life and still is so involved.”

After Hurst’s eight years on the LMH board, she was hooked.

“I wanted to continue my connection, and volunteering seemed the best way to stay involved,” Hurst says.

Hurst’s involvement in the community isn’t limited to volunteering. Professionally, she served as the secretary of the Kansas Department of Aging, the executive director of the Kansas Commission on Human Rights and the state director for AARP.

The skills she gained throughout her varied career continue to help her improve the lives of those around her. After a day of helping both individuals and families at LMH, Hurst says she tends to leave the hospital with a smile on her face.

“I think that the rewards of volunteering are super,” she says. “You can’t volunteer and not feel good about what you’re doing. It’s a wonderful experience to have and in that process, so much more comes back to you.”