Group Has Impacted Local Volunteer
About a year after Barbara Gruening’s husband passed away, she found she had time on her hands. At a women’s event in Appleton, Gruening, 81, of New London, heard the speaker ask the audience what their passion was. “I leaned over to a friend and said I don’t have a passion,” she said. “At that point in time I had been a caregiver.”
But when she reflected on what she enjoyed doing, it was thoughts of the Auxiliary at ThedaCare Medical Center-New London, which she stepped away from when her husband had a stroke. She rejoined the group and has been involved since.
“My children will say to me you are never home,” said Gruening, who has served as vice president and now president. “I say yes, but if you stop and think, what would I do if I did not have the Auxiliary? I would be doing a lot of sitting or watching TV.”
She said the hospital has volunteering opportunities for anyone. There is the gift shop, surgery waiting area, and registration. There are also opportunities for people to use a craft or talent to make surgical pillows, walker bags, cleaning cart bags, blankets for babies and items for the annual Bazaar, like potato bags, curling iron bags, and mittens. “I just feel that it’s very worthwhile,” said Gruening. “You can work as much as you want.”
The Auxiliary also provides support for the hospital. “We gave three $1,000 scholarships to three graduating seniors and donated $6,000 to the ThedaCare Foundation-New London, which raises money to do special projects,” she said, noting projects like the birthing center, cancer center and the hospital chapel. “And this year we gave $5,000 to the Foundation to support the ER renovation project.”
Gruening said the last 14 years have seen many changes at the hospital. Due to that growth, more volunteers are needed to step up. “It’s grown so much that we simply need more people,” she said. “Also we need more people in the winter for those who go away.”
All volunteers are part of the Auxiliary. Because of that, Gruening said she finds much satisfaction in volunteering. “I love it because I feel like I’m doing something good,” she said. “I have enjoyed every single minute with the Auxiliary. Sometimes I’ve told them at meetings how happy I am that I am a volunteer. They helped me at a time when I really needed it, to find what kind of direction my life should go in. It is also a great bunch of people to work with.”
If interested in volunteering, contact Joy Flohr at 920.531.2092 or go to the ThedaCare.org website and click Get Involved.
For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 6,800 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 34 clinics in 14 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. ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton opened in February. For more information, visit www.thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.