Schneck Guild celebrating 60 years


While much has changed in the medical field over the past 60 years, one group hasn’t wavered in its mission in Jackson County.

The name and size of the hospital in Seymour has changed, but the roles of the volunteers are as important as when the inaugural contingent started service.

In 1958, a group of eight charter members came together to create a guild at Jackson County Schneck Memorial Hospital, which is now Schneck Medical Center.

Mrs. George Laupus, Mrs. B.F. Swain Jr., Mrs. Wilford Greemann, Mrs. George Boas, Mrs. Harry Baxter, Mrs. Richard Montgomery, Mrs. Arthur Kaufman — all of Seymour — and Mrs. Richard Robertson of Brownstown organized a guild to help further the mission of the hospital.

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]

In an article that ran Dec. 10, 1958, in The Tribune, the duties of the guild were outlined. 

"The purpose of organizing the hospital guild is to promote and advance the welfare of the patients in the hospital, and this will be done by the use of volunteers," the article said. "The volunteers will augment the patient care program by freeing staff members for their special skills, providing numerous service extras which mean so much to patients and maintaining the friendly community spirit of the hospital."

As duties were outlined and a plan was created for the program, other hospitals with volunteer services reached out to help the hospital in Seymour.

A group was assisted by Mrs. Howard Henderson of Indianapolis in the early stages. Henderson was a past president of the Indiana Hospital Auxiliaries Association and helped the group formulate a plan for the various volunteer services Mrs. Mary Lee Smith, director of nursing services, and Ralph W. Keyes, hospital administrator, had.

The hospital would later create a junior program that would allow young women, called candy stripers, to volunteer their time.

While the junior volunteers have dropped the old titles, the program is still going strong. Each summer, 85 students help at the hospital.

These days, the guild is as busy as it has ever been.

Over the past five years, it has contributed more than $455,000 in donations to the hospital. In fundraising, the group donated $153,779.19 in 2018. 

Amy Cockerham, volunteer manager at the hospital, said there are more than 100 volunteers in the guild.

Schneck Medical Center recently announced volunteers gave more than 20,000 hours of service to the hospital in 2018 — the highest in guild history.

Volunteers serve in many areas of the hospital, including the gift shop, admitting and information desks, driving the parking lot shuttles, the emergency department, chaplaincy, hospice and various other departments.

Helen Clark, 89, of Brownstown served as the guild’s president from 1991 to 1992 and recently stepped away from her duties as treasurer after 19 years. She said she started volunteering in the 1980s, and she hasn’t missed many Friday mornings since first volunteering. 

Clark said she has always worked at the information desk, and the biggest changes she has seen are in the remodels and construction on the hospital campus.

"You’re helping people, but that’s not all. They help you, too," Clark said. "It gave me a commitment to helping others and to meet other people. The guild has helped me see other aspects of life."

As a nonprofit organization, Schneck relies on its volunteers to assist staff in completing many daily tasks. Volunteer efforts enable hospital staff to spend more time providing patient care.

Since undergoing construction, one of the most popular volunteering opportunities is driving the shuttles around the medical center. Cockerham said the two shuttles logged 19,000 miles last year.

Wanda Campbell, 68, of Seymour has volunteered with the guild for the past five years and drives the shuttle Thursday mornings.

"I wanted to feel like I was doing something for the community," Campbell said. "There’s a lot of need, and I really enjoy it. It’s mainly the elderly who need help when all the handicap parking spots are full."

In addition to the thousands of hours volunteered annually, the guild raises funds through events and operates Blings-n-Things Gift Shop with all proceeds benefiting the organization.

While the volunteering was mostly dominated by women in the early years, more and more men are helping out these days.

"I feel like the volunteers are the heart of the hospital," Cockerham said. "They’re the icing on the cake, that extra special touch to the staff, patients and visitors. We couldn’t do it without their financial support and selfless volunteer hours."

On Thursday, the guild will conduct a 60th anniversary celebration at Pewter Hall in Brownstown for invitees to celebrate the past while looking to the years ahead.

No posts to display