By Joel Hall
Through bake sales, smoothie sales, donations and various fund-raisers this past year, the Southern Regional Medical Center Auxiliary has raised nearly a half-million dollars.
On Tuesday, the group of volunteers donated the money to the hospital at the auxiliary's 38th Annual Celebration and Installation Banquet.
The annual gala took place at the Renaissance Concourse Hotel in Atlanta. During the event, the auxiliary installed new officers and donated two checks, one for $120,000 to update the hospital's anesthesia monitoring systems, and another for $358,000 to help purchase a neonatal transporter, emergency department equipment, several replacement critical care beds, and 20 new wheelchairs.
"It's wonderfully generous of them, not only to provide their time and service to us, but to also raise funds on behalf of the hospital and contribute those funds to purchase various equipment," said Clint Matthews, president and CEO of Southern Regional Medical Center. "It not only enhances the quality of care, but the level of comfort to our patients."
Monica Johnson, coordinator of volunteer services for the hospital, said volunteers play a critical role at Southern Regional Medical Center through fund-raising, but also through donated volunteer hours.
"They not only donate money to the hospital, but they save the hospital money by donating their time," Johnson said. "The main reception area, which is a high-traffic area, is staffed by volunteers. The Windmill Gift Shop is closely related to the auxiliary. They do seven or eight fund-raisers throughout the year in conjunction with the gift shop.
"They are doing a lot of things that will free the nurses to focus on patient care," Johnson added.
During Tuesday's banquet, the auxiliary installed new officers: Naomi Harlow (vice president); Kathryn Hall (treasurer); Annie Pearl Allen (recording secretary); and Belinda Williams (corresponding secretary). Carol Montesinos, a retired Fulton County middle school teacher with 16 years of experience working for the auxiliary, assumed the role of president, replacing outgoing President Ernesteene Knowles.
Clayton County Juvenile Court Judge Steve Teske was the program's keynote speaker. Teske, who also serves as the president of Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity, highlighted the importance of volunteerism and urged local residents to get more involved with the hospital.
"Without volunteers serving in both the private and public sector ... we would have a lot of failed systems," Teske said. "Both in government and private business, we are finding the ones that survive are the ones that are able to tap the community for volunteers. No matter who we are, we all should find something in which to give of our time ... the only thing that we get in return is the satisfaction of knowing that we helped somebody."
Matthews noted that in the past year, auxiliary volunteers have donated more than 11,000 hours to the hospital and have supervised more than 2,500 student-volunteer hours. He said members of the auxiliary serve as "great ambassadors" between the hospital and the community.