Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting the Thursday morning shift of the Gray Ladies and Lads of the American Red Cross at CarolinaEast Medical Center (previously known as Craven Regional Medical Center). The Gray Ladies have been caring for patients in Craven County since 1951. The Gray Lads joined the Ladies about ten years ago, together, they provide many important services to patients at the CarolinaEast Medical Center. They are the only civilian hospital based Gray Ladies and Lads group left in the state of North Carolina.
They transport patients; assist with patient admissions and discharges; run errands for the hospital staff; deliver newspapers, flowers, and mail to patients; help operate the information desk during staff shortages; and they even decorate the Medical Center during the holidays.
During my short visit, the phone rang many times and each time, a volunteer stood up to answer the requested service. They took turns for each request without any questions. One returned to the office, another left, the spirit of teamwork emulated throughout this small group. This was a true sign of camaraderie and a very healthy working environment.
If you’ve ever been a patient or visited the Medical Center, you may have been fortunate enough to receive the hospitality of these special volunteers donned in their blue smocks. They are a proud group of folks who really enjoy their work. When asked why they volunteer, responses varied from satisfaction in interacting with patients, visitors, and staff; the feeling of working together as a family; having fun; getting exercise; and a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. These are only a few things that motivate these hardworking volunteers.
These highly dedicated and motivated volunteers commit to working four hour shifts per week and 100 hours a year. Many of them work an average of 300 hours per year or more. There are also volunteers who fill in as substitutes to cover someone’s shift.
People may assume since the name of this exclusive group is “Gray Ladies and Lads” you must have gray hair to volunteer. That’s simply not true, those who are 18 years or older are welcome to join! Requirements to become a volunteer are attending an eight hour orientation and shadowing a Gray Lady or Lad for 20 hours. For more information about the Gray Ladies and Lads or to become a volunteer, please contact Ms. Jeanne Balaoing at 252-633-8127.
Thank you Gray Ladies and Lads of the American Red Cross for your hard work, dedication, and services you provide to our community, you really make a difference! Your precious time and effort is truly a measure of your character and kindness!