UNION — After retirement from a dedicated 30-plus-year career at Milliken’s Cedar Hill Plant, Florence Meador had a decision to make about how she would spend her extra time.
During her spare time while working at Cedar Hill, Meador took care of others. Family members who fell ill moved in with her family.
“When I worked, I had my mother-in-law, father-in-law, then my mother, my daddy and my husband,” she said. “I had to take care of them, and I didn’t have time for anything else.”
When the time came for Meador to retire 12 years ago, she decided to stick with serving others.
“People were so good to me — church family and friends — I wanted to repay what little I could,” Meador said. “At that time, they were needing people at the hospital to volunteer, and it just seemed like the right thing to do.”
Meador became a WTH volunteer and continues to enjoy volunteering there today.
“I thoroughly enjoy giving back to the hospital and to people — helping them,” Meador said. “It’s a blessing for me to feel like I’ve accomplished something.”
Meador considered other volunteer programs, but she wanted to find one which would allow her to set her hours and have time to visit her daughter in Florence. The plan came together, as Meador spoke to The Union Daily Times by phone from her daughter’s home in Florence.
Meador began her volunteer service by working at the WTH information desk in the hospital lobby, which she continues to do today. Later, she began helping fellow volunteer Linda Roberson with picking up drinks and snacks and filling the vending machines on the first floor.
“And I’ll tell you, that was a JOB,” Meador laughed.
After Roberson began experiencing health problems, Meador tried handling the job by herself. She picked up supplies in Spartanburg, brought them to the hospital, unloaded them in the storage room and helped fill the vending machines.
“That got to be too much for me,” Meador said. “I couldn’t handle the cases of drinks I had to buy. I had to give that up.”
Although that was the hardest job Meador said she has done at the hospital, she said it was the most fulfilling.
“I really enjoyed it, and I miss it,” she said. “I wish I was able to go unload the drinks. We made a lot of money when we did it ourselves.”
The profit from the first-floor vending machines benefits the WTH volunteer group, even though currently, paid employees deliver the items and keep the machines filled.
The vending machines are one method of several in which volunteers raise money. They also host various activities throughout the year such as bake sales and jewelry sales.
Meador explained the money raised through the WTH volunteers is used to buy needed equipment for the hospital and fund scholarships for people who want to go back to school.
“It makes me feel good to feel like I’m a little part of all that,” Meador said.
One example of the volunteers’ fundraising efforts is the purchase of a golf cart for a service which was launched by WTH in November. The service is used to shuttle patients from the hospital’s lower parking level.
“That has really been a blessing for people who can’t walk from the lower level up to the lobby,” Meador said.
During the first week, the golf cart service provided transportation for over 750 people.
Meador is currently the treasurer of the WTH volunteers, in addition to her other duties.
“If they call and want me to do anything, I’ll do it,” she said.
For that reason, Meador was named 2012 Wallace Thomson Hospital Volunteer of the Year.
“I am so excited to share that Florence Meador is our Volunteer of the Year,” said WTH Volunteer Coordinator Catherine M. Childers. “If she has done one job, she has done them all. This organization is blessed to have so many caring people in it but we are especially grateful for Ms. Meador’s service.”
Meador also encourages others to volunteer at Wallace Thomson.
“There are a lot of things we need help with,” Meador said, explaining that there are numerous volunteer opportunities at the hospital.
“We have two that go to patients’ rooms. They might read to the patients if they want them to, or help with their meals.”
Meador said she would love to see more young people become involved at the hospital. She said she would encourage anyone to come to the hospital and discuss volunteering with Childers.
“If anybody would like, we would love to have them come and sign up,” Meador said. “I think they would get a blessing and fulfillment out of it that I do.”
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.