Opportunities abound for UC Davis Health System volunteers
Helping others during down economy can benefit volunteers, too
The downturn in the nation’s economy may be the reason for an uptick in the numbers of people volunteering at UC Davis Health System. In recent months, the health system has experienced an unprecedented surge in both the number and types of volunteers, with people perhaps sharpening their skills or developing new ones by donating their time at the university’s Sacramento campus.
“We typically have a lot of students looking to fulfill training hours for degree programs and high school students looking to log community service credits,” said Jacob “J.P.” Eres, manager of the health system’s Volunteer Services program. “But we’re seeing a different mix of volunteers lately. The increase in people volunteering from the general community is surpassing anything we’ve seen historically. Whatever the reasons are, all I can say is we’re grateful for the help.”
In recent months, as many as 150 more people than usual have signed up to volunteer. Eres suggested the jump may be due to the variety of work opportunities available on UC Davis’ 140-acre Stockton Boulevard campus, which includes everything from the hospital and a cancer center to an energy plant, research facilities and dozens of academic and administrative offices. Nearly 850 people volunteer with the health system each year, providing approximately 180,000 hours of service and contributing about $3.2 million in value to the health system.
“If that’s only possible for a couple of hours a week, then we’ll work around a person’s time constraints. What we’re most concerned with is that volunteers genuinely want to make a difference and that they do the best they can while they’re here.”
— J.P. Eres
Many volunteers have focused on assignments in and around the hospital, gaining experience in the region’s only level 1 trauma center and at the nearby outpatient clinics, where specialty services and care range from physical therapy and obstetrics to ophthalmology, pain medicine and pediatrics. Engineering students have signed up to work in the university’s large power facility, which generates much of the energy for the health system’s buildings. And those interested in law have volunteered in the legal affairs office.
Volunteers don’t need a special degree to be of service. Positions are available in the hospital’s gift shop and in clinical offices, which are good places to hone customer-service skills. People who love to work with small children and infants often choose to join the baby-cradler program or become readers for pediatric patients. While a four-month commitment to the health system is preferable, it is not a requirement. Every volunteer has something to contribute.
How to become a volunteer
For more information about becoming a UC Davis Health System volunteer, contact the Volunteer Services department at (916) 734-2401, or visit the volunteer program Web site at www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/giving/time.
“We simply need volunteers here,” said Eres. “If that’s only possible for a couple of hours a week, then we’ll work around a person’s time constraints. What we’re most concerned with is that volunteers genuinely want to make a difference and that they do the best they can while they’re here.”
Herb and Jan Hoover are two of the health system’s longtime volunteers. Now retired, the couple has been donating time and energy to UC Davis for the past 13 years. The Hoovers install special medical alert devices on the phones of shut-ins, the disabled and the elderly as a way to ensure continuing safety after they’ve been discharged from the hospital. The device enables a person in distress to easily activate a 9-1-1 call and alert emergency personnel.
“You’d be surprised how many seniors have no one to call in case of an emergency,” said Herb Hoover. “It makes us feel good to help others and reminds the two of us how lucky we are and how much we need to always appreciate all the good things in our life.”