Volunteers in 2014: Pinafores not required

Volunteers at the former Community-General Hospital have plenty to smile about as they look at the tens of thousands of hours they devote to helping patients and caregivers. One of the photos in the 50th anniversary exhibit.

1968: Auxiliary members and a volunteer at the former Community-General Hospital look at the thousands of hours devoted to helping patients and caregivers. Note the pinafore on the volunteer at right. From the Upstate hospitals’ 50th anniversary exhibit.

“Volunteers are required to wear pinafores,” read the invitation to the hospital’s first volunteer recognition event, a formal afternoon tea held on a Sunday in 1964.

Fifty years later, hospital volunteers wear unisex navy blue vests or jackets when they’re on duty, and there’s no dress code for parties. Volunteers are still recognized for their service, and this year’s celebration (on April 30) was held  at the Onondaga Historical Association. The location was chosen in honor of the Upstate hospitals’ 50th anniversary of their opening.

Guests enjoyed tours of the museum and got a sneak peek of a photo exhibit of the early days of Upstate’s two hospital campuses. On view were historic images of one governor (Nelson Rockefeller), five construction workers, several administrators, and a host of volunteers. The images came from the Onondaga Historical Association and Upstate’s Health Sciences Library. Many, including the photo above, were part of a recent donation from the former Community-General Hospital to Upstate’s library.

The celebration was arranged by Kristin Bruce, director of volunteer services at Upstate, who says, “It is so much fun working with these great people.”

According to Kristin, today these great people are close to 600 volunteers who give more than 80,000 hours of service to Upstate each year. (There are 364 volunteers at the downtown campus, 220 at community.)

Muriel Diefendorf, auxiliary president, 1976

Muriel Diefendorf, 1976

Muriel Diefendorf, 86—one of the guests at the celebration—has been a volunteer at the community campus hospital since 1961. (That’s 53 years.) She began recruiting volunteers when the hospital was under construction, served as auxiliary president and was a play lady in the hospital’s pediatric unit. Muriel has lived on Broad Road since the 1950s which gave her a front-row seat during the construction of the hospital in the early 1960s.

Today, Muriel is happy to let us know that volunteering at Upstate is “in her blood” and that she has no plans to retire.

The hospitals’ 50th anniversary exhibit is on display  in the gallery at the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital (open only to Upstate patients, visitors and staff) until June 30. From July 1 through August 30, it will be on display at Upstate’s Health Sciences Library.

Upstate librarian Jim Capodagli and volunteer Muriel Diefendorf  look over scrap books that were moved from Upstate’s community-campus hospital to the historical collections at Upstate’s Health Sciences Library.

Upstate librarian Jim Capodagli and volunteer Muriel Diefendorf smile over early hospital photos that were recently added to the historical collections at Upstate’s Health Sciences Library.

 

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About susankeeter

Occasional contributor Upstate’s Susan Keeter has written about and painted Upstate’s Dr. Sarah Loguen, one of the first African American women physicians. Keeter created the horse sculpture in front of the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital and illustrated a children’s book on autism, “Waiting for Benjamin.” She’s written for Physician Practice, Upstate Alumni Journal, Cancer Care and Upstate Health magazines. Reach her by email at keeters@upstate.edu or by phone at 315-464-4834.
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