Nearly everyone who had the privilege of knowing Bob Pink could feel his energy, enthusiasm and desire to help others.
He was one of the most well-known volunteers at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Appleton, where he began volunteering after retiring from the paper industry, a career spanning nearly four decades. His positive attitude was hard to miss in the hallways of the hospital.
Bob unexpectedly passed away in May 2023. He volunteered at the hospital just days before passing.
“He loved the workers and he loved helping people,” his family wrote in his obituary. “To all that knew him or encountered him during his time there, know he never met an ear that he couldn’t talk off!”
ThedaCare featured Bob in a volunteer story in 2019. The story described his dedication to volunteering with his granddaughter, Lexi Valeri, who was 16-years-old at the time. Lexi volunteered with her grandfather for many summers, teaching her the ways she could help others.
“The time we spent volunteering together was so special, doing what we loved,” said Lexi. “I got to know more about him, and he got to know me as a person, as I was growing into an adult. It did not seem like a traditional volunteer job. I thought of it more as a time where I had the opportunity to hang out with my grandpa while helping someone else.”
The legacy of volunteering was going to continue. This summer, Bob was also planning to volunteer with his granddaughter, 16-year-old Taylor Pink.
“I was so beyond excited to start volunteering with my grandpa, and get to see how his bright personality affected other people and their lives,” said Taylor. “He was such a caring and bright person, and it was always something I admired in him. Whenever anyone around him was having a bad day, he did his best to try and change that.”
Continuing a Grandfather’s Legacy
Understanding the importance of their grandfather’s volunteer work, both Lexi and Taylor decided they would continue to help others.
In June 2023, the girls volunteered together at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Appleton, to honor their grandfather.
Lexi said she felt a deep connection to her grandfather that day.
“While I was volunteering, especially when taking patients to the Chandler Waiting Room, I would always bring up the yellow arrows as a way of helping people to find their way back,” Lexi recalled. “When my grandpa trained me as a new volunteer, he shared with me the way to remember where to go is to follow the ‘yellow brick road.’ From that day forward, when I would bring patients there, I would share with them that ‘on the right we are going to follow the yellow arrows, or as my grandpa calls them, the ‘yellow brick road.’ By carrying on his legacy, it makes me feel even more connected to him, even if he isn’t here.”
“I plan to continue volunteering as a way to share the kindness and care he brought to everyone he met,” said Taylor. “It’s such an honor to do that. Giving back to a person’s community is incredibly important, and I’m fortunate to be able to help others who need it most.”
Taylor is volunteering at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Appleton as well as other ThedaCare locations this summer.
The girl’s passion for helping expands beyond volunteering. Both are planning for careers in health care.
Lexi, who is now 20-years-old, is completing her undergraduate degree at UW-La Crosse. She plans to apply to medical school after graduation. Lexi said her volunteer experience at the hospital influenced her career plans.
“During the times I volunteered with my grandpa, I was able to get a behind-the-scenes look at health care,” said Lexi. “I was able to see the interactions and hear patient’s stories. I saw the incredible care that was provided every single day. I believe my experience is a true testament to the wonderful opportunities that can come from volunteering.”
Her cousin, Taylor, also feels the calling.
“I’m going to be a senior this year at Fox Valley Lutheran High School,” said Taylor. “I plan to go to college for pre-medicine and eventually become a cardiovascular thoracic researcher.”
The family hopes others will continue to spread Bob’s kindness, and they’re proud to honor his legacy by passing on his passion for volunteering.
Volunteer Opportunities at ThedaCare
Each year, ThedaCare is privileged have a team of volunteers like Bob Pink who provide support for patients, families and team members throughout the system. The volunteers provide thousands of hours of service throughout the ThedaCare network.
“In the Fox Valley alone, we have more than 400 volunteers,” said Laura Kemps, Manager of Volunteer Services at ThedaCare. “We’re so grateful for every single one of them, they’re simply incredible.”
Volunteer opportunities are available throughout ThedaCare, including the hospitals, Regional Cancer Center, Encircle Health and with each of the hospice programs.
Kemps noted that volunteers also provide support with escorting, gift shops, care carts, waiting rooms, pet therapy, assembling take home packets for patients post-surgery, knitting baby hats and helping at the print center.
“Our volunteers help the hospital system function each day,” said Kemps. “They are a critical part of helping provide exceptional care for our communities.”
Kemps said volunteers are represented by all ages and abilities. Many are retired and looking to connect with others who are also in the same stage of life. Others are retired from health care and want to continue helping people. And many are younger people, discovering they have a passion for health care and want to give back.
“Our volunteers are often the first people that patients and families see when they come into our facilities,” said Kemps. “They have a smile on their face and can make someone’s day brighter, better and easier. They enhance the experience for our patients and families. I’m proud to say that you can always count on our volunteers.”
To learn more about volunteer opportunities at ThedaCare, please click here.
Understanding the importance of their grandfather, Bob Pink’s volunteer work, both Lexi Valeri and Taylor Pink decided they would continue to help others. In June 2023, the girls volunteered together at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Appleton, to honor their grandfather.
Bob Pink and his granddaughter, Lexi Valeri, were featured in a 2019 article from ThedaCare. The story described Bob’s dedication to volunteering, and passing on his passion to family members.
For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health and well-being of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to more than 650,000 residents in 17 counties and employs approximately 7,000 providers and team members. ThedaCare has 180 points of care, including eight hospitals. As an organization committed to being a leader in Population Health, team members are dedicated to empowering people to live their unique, best lives. ThedaCare also partners with communities to understand needs, finding solutions together, and encouraging health awareness and action. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts about a patient’s care. ThedaCare is proud to partner with Children’s Wisconsin and Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network to enhance convenient access to the most advanced levels of specialty care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health system with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs, as well as primary care.
For more information, visit thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on social media. Members of the media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public and Media Relations Consultant at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.