The popular word uttered at the UT Southwestern Volunteer Appreciation luncheon: “saint.” This is how several described Stella Bressler, the longtime UTSW volunteer who passed away earlier this year at age 98, after 47 years of service to the institution
“Many called her the ‘silent saint,’” said Katherine Spinks, Senior Administrative Assistant with Chaplain Services and one of the organizers of the annual campus luncheon. “If there was a need, she would magically make sure that need was met – whether it was for reading glasses, a patient’s favorite soda, anything.”
Volunteerism at University Hospitals began Feb. 13, 1943, with the creation of the St. Paul Auxiliary, whose members made various supplies for the former St. Paul University Hospital. Ms. Bressler, who joined the auxiliary in 1969, logged more than 135,000 volunteer hours – more than any other volunteer. In 2009, the Auxiliary dissolved, replaced with Volunteer Services.
The Rev. John O’Neal, UT Southwestern’s Director of Chaplain Services, opened the event at William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital by thanking volunteers.
“Today we gather to honor you, the very many volunteers who here at UTSW volunteer at our clinics and facilities – you make us complete,” the Rev. O’Neal said. “Last year, 353 dedicated community members donated 18,000-plus hours to hospitals and clinics in 35 departments here at University Hospitals. The services that volunteers provide give a tremendous boost to our delivery of quality, caring services for patients and their families.”
Among those at the luncheon this year: Joe and Hidalia Myers, who were celebrating their own service milestones of 500 and 1,000 hours served, respectively. Their primary directive: Label and arrange magazines in the waiting areas and deliver them to patients who request them, or take the Holy Eucharist to Catholic patients.
“We visit with the patients a lot one-on-one, and we get to see the impact of just sitting and talking and visiting with them,” Mr. Myers said. “That’s why UT Southwestern is a great medical center, because they go that extra step for their patients.”
The event’s guest speaker was Dr. William C. Daniel, Vice President of Health System Affairs and Chief Medical and Quality Officer.
“You as volunteers have a direct impact on the experience of patients and their families,” Dr. Daniel said. “As a cardiologist, I see hearts with this condition or that condition – but you help the person attached to that heart.”