Health System volunteer reaches 16,000 hours of service
For most people, 16,000 hours would signify 8 years of full-time work. To George Lowrie, they represent the time he has spent at the Health System as a volunteer, and it hasn’t been work at all.
“I have a thing for babies. I always have,” says Lowrie, who splits his time between C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital floors 11 and 12. He holds, feeds and rocks babies, giving them the tender loving attention they need, away from home in a hospital.
“Sometimes, because of work, a parent can’t be here,” Lowrie says. “Or they’re so exhausted they have to go home.”
Before retirement, Lowrie worked in the lab of Comprehensive Cancer Center Director Max Wicha, M.D., as an organic chemist and volunteered four hours every Saturday. After retirement, he began treating his volunteer assignment like a job, coming in two days a week for 8 to 10 hours each day.
“He loves what he does and it really shows,” Tammy Kutter, administrative assistant in Volunteer Services, says. “Every once in a while he will come in and tell us about a great day he had regarding a child who he had gotten to know over many months who was able to go home. We often think about all the families’ lives he touches and how blessed they, and we, are to have come in contact with George.”
Volunteer Services had a surprise party for Lowrie when he reached 16,000 hours on March 29. Yet, Kutter says, “I believe our patients and their families provide the biggest accolades for George when, as many do, they come back to visit their doctors, nurses and caregivers and seek out George, too, to thank him.”
Lowrie often gets cards and letters from the parents of children he held years ago, letting him know the kids are doing fine.
“I have always been proud of being a small part of a successful treatment for a child,” Lowrie says. “But for whatever I might give, I get it all back. It flows in both directions.”
“George Lowrie represents the dedication and giving spirit that epitomize the qualities of a UMHS volunteer,” says new Volunteer Services Director Loulie Meynard, MSW. “Volunteers provide assistance and services and bring a very special level of attention to patients and their families. The level of commitment George has shown throughout his years as a volunteer affirms our values and the tradition of excellence that is Michigan.”
Being the consummate volunteer, Lowrie notes that May is a great time to start volunteering because a lot of volunteers are students who graduate or go home for the summer.
In Fiscal Year 2010-11, 2,365 people volunteered their time and talents to the Health System.
For more information about Volunteer Services, visit http://www.med.umich.edu/volunteer/.