“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, 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.