By CHRISSY SMITH
Slidell news bureau
SLIDELL — Slidell Memorial Hospital wouldn’t be quite as hospitable if it wasn’t for its senior volunteers.
There are 120 senior volunteers with SMH who do everything from working in the gift shop to doing clerical work.
“We have volunteers all over. Some are on patient floors and talk to the patients. Some work full days doing clerical work. One of the volunteers is teaching communications skills to employees,” SMH Volunteer/Gift Shop Coordinator Laurie Manley said.
Lots of seniors also participate in the “Mall Walkers” organization, which are actually a group of people, mostly seniors, who walk at the mall and track their distance.
“It’s not just for senior citizens, but we have anywhere from 80-125 seniors who are mall walkers,” Manley said. “They can walk anytime and are given a card to track their miles.”
There were four members who tracked over 1,000 miles last year. Ninety-five percent of all the walkers are seniors.
“It’s great for the seniors because once they get on a schedule, they walk with the same people so it’s a social activity,” Manley said.
The senior volunteers and walkers range from 55 years old to 92.
Manley said she’s found that the older volunteers enjoy what they do because of the social aspect.
“They are at an age where they can get out of the house and see people and friends,” Manley said.
The younger volunteers have said they enjoy volunteering because it gives them a chance to “give back” to SMH.
“These are young volunteers who might be retired, but are still knowledgeable and skilled. Just because they’ve chosen to be retired, they still want to feel useful and needed,” Manley said.
To become a volunteer at Slidell Memorial Hospital, fill out an application at the information desk or call Manley at 985-649-8531. If interested in becoming a mall walker, call Mary Anne Melton at 985-641-1580.