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April 9, 2019


Going Above and Beyond to Help Patients and Families

Photo: ThedaCare Volunteers Charles, Shirley, and Paul.

April 9, 2019


Going Above and Beyond to Help Patients and Families

APPLETON, Wis. – The same day each week, you’ll find Charles and Shirley Smith at ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center. The pair has been volunteering at various ThedaCare locations for decades. Charles began volunteering in 1988, two years after he retired from the phone company, where he was employed for 39 years. His wife, Shirley, began volunteering in 1978 with flower sales, Christmas craft sales and at hospitals.

“Volunteering is rewarding,” said Charles. “You get more out of it than you put in. It feels good to help others, especially during their challenging times.”

The husband and wife team currently deliver meals to those going through longer treatments at the cancer center. They explain the best part of volunteering is meeting the people.

“You get to know them very well,” said Charles. “You see them week after week. We’ve even gotten to the point where we know what some people will order for their meals.”

The volunteer bond is special.

“Sometimes they just want someone to talk with, listen to their problems,” said Shirley. “It makes you feel like you’re helping them through their illness.”

Shirley recalls one patient who noticed an angel pin that she was wearing.

“I had an extra one at home, so I brought it to her. She appreciated that small gesture so much,” Shirley said. “Now when I see her, she’s always wearing the pin, saying she wears the angel near her heart.”

More than 550 people volunteer their time at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Appleton, ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah, the Endoscopy Desk at Encircle Health and the ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center.

Both hospitals in Appleton and Neenah have a volunteer board of directors. The board oversees and makes policies for the volunteers. The two volunteer organizations also provide various scholarships throughout the year.

Shirley is in her 80s and Charles will be turning 90 in August, and say they have no plans to slow down, in fact, they say volunteering keeps them young.  

“You have to stay active. This keeps us alert, both mentally and physically. We’re walking about two miles every time we volunteer delivering meals,” he laughed. “You can never slow down.”

With five children, 12 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, it seems the two enjoy the “on-the-go” lifestyle.

“We’re going to keep doing this as long as we can,” said Shirley. “We want others to give it a try. You’ll never regret giving back.”

On this very special week, ThedaCare thanks all who volunteer in our hospitals, clinics and communities. Your generosity helps our mission of improving the health in the communities we serve. Volunteers make a positive impact on our patients and neighbors and are greatly appreciated.  

For more information on volunteering at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Appleton, contact Joni Conrad at 920-738-6269 or

To volunteer at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah, contact Brooke Techlin at 920-729-2207 or

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization serves a community of more than 600,000 residents and employs more than 6,700 healthcare professionals throughout the regions. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 31 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.

For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.

Media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public Relations Specialist at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.