Volunteers Extraordinaire by Ken Burger
You never know who's going to walk in the door of Roper Hospital or what kind of mood they will be in when they get here. But it never hurts to have a smiling face to greet them and make them feel better.That's what Betty Saulisbury has been doing at this downtown hospital for 37 years as a volunteer extraordinaire. And I do mean “extraordinaire,” because Betty has now served more than 29,500 hours as a volunteer and shows no signs of letting up any time soon.
“My husband Carl (they've been married 66 years) and I started volunteering here in the 1970s after our two children left home and we had nothing to do,” Betty explained. “I came to Roper because, well, I was born in the old Roper Hospital so it seemed like home to me.” Betty started volunteering in admitting for two years, then she was asked to work in the recovery room. “I hesitated at first, but they said try it and I stayed there for 15 years.”
DRESSING UPOver the years Betty has served all over the hospital, but is best known these days as the lady who works Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the information desk at the rear entrance of Roper and makes everybody smile. “At Easter time I'll wear bunny ears and at Christmas time I'll have flashing lights on my head and I have a lot of Christmas sweaters,” she said with a laugh. “And, you know, shamrocks on St. Patrick's Day and big red hearts on Valentine's Day. I like to dress up.” All these years of greeting and dealing with people in distress have made Betty appreciate what people are going through. “My most rewarding time was in ICU when I'd get to meet the families who were so stressed out,” she said. “I would pat them on the back and tell them I loved them. There were some wonderful people, many of whom I still keep in touch with.”
Governor's AwardBecause of her dedicated volunteer service, Betty was recently recognized with the statewide Legacy Volunteer Award and got to meet the governor. Also honored were Charles and Marlene Williamon with more than 8,000 volunteer hours. “We went to the Statehouse in Columbia and met Nikki Haley,” said the spry 84-year-old Betty. “She shook my hand and said she appreciated our work. She was a very warm person. It was wonderful.”
So, the only question now is how much longer Betty is going to grace us with her cheery presence. “Probably until I drop,” she said with a smile. “I've worked with six volunteer directors and they've all been great. This is a wonderful group to be around and there is no better place to volunteer.”
Contact Ken at firstname.lastname@example.org