When patients come to AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, the first people they may see are the volunteers who greet them at the door. This year, the hospital volunteers were met with applause and messages of thanks from AdventHealth team members in a drive-by celebration in recognition for their service to the hospital.

AdventHealth Shawnee Mission team members stood outside the hospital to hold signs and cheer for volunteers during the event. Nearly 300 volunteers drove in a parade of approximately 150 cars during the Aug. 13 event. The volunteers received awards, a small gift and a Fairway Creamery ice cream treat.

Friends from the community dressed in costumes to entertain the attendees. Two dinosaurs and a cowboy on an inflatable horse greeted the volunteers as they drove by, and a judge in a giant chair presided over the event.

Volunteers have been making a difference at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission since the program began in 1961. Shirley Hayes, the first volunteer, was involved with the hospital until she passed away in early 2012. Today, an average of 600 people volunteer at AdventHealth each year. This includes volunteers in the junior program (ages 14-18) and the adult program (ages 19 and up).

In 2019, a total of 642 adult and junior volunteers served at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission contributing 101,513 hours of their time.

“Our volunteers are indispensable to our organization,” says Peggy Todd, manager of Volunteer Services at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission. “We are so thankful for the time they give and the unique talents and skills they bring to the hospital.”

Volunteers come from a wide variety of backgrounds—former and retired associates, previous patients, visitors and community members who are looking to get involved. By interacting with patients and our community, volunteers help provide the personal connections important to overall health.

At AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, our focus on whole-person health is based on CREATION Life principles. The “I” in CREATION refers to Interpersonal Relationships, including the connections we have with family, friends and others. These connections with other people can affect our physical, mental and spiritual health.

“Our volunteer program definitely ties in with the CREATION Health principles,” says Todd. “Staying in contact and building relationships with others enriches your social and emotional life. It improves social health and life expectancy.”

This year’s Adult Volunteer of the Year was Jodie Blackburn, and Vedha Penmatcha was named Junior Volunteer of the Year.

“I am beyond thankful for everything AdventHealth has brought me over the years,” says Blackburn. “I’ve had the opportunity to make beautiful friendships, and I thoroughly enjoy being a volunteer in such a wonderful and uplifting atmosphere.”

“Volunteering at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission has allowed me to help people in a hospital, a place I would like to work in the future,” says Penmatcha. “It has also given me the opportunity to gain real-world exposure to how a hospital works and the different ways I can interact with patients or patients’ relatives and friends.”

Learn more about AdventHealth Shawnee Mission’s programs at AdventHealthKC.com.