Featured Story 13 April 2022
Ready to Serve
Volunteerism at Ivinson has been a long standing tradition, upheld by the Ivinson Auxiliary.
For over 70 years, volunteers have been donating their time to making Ivinson a great place to work and receive care.
What makes our auxiliary program special is our volunteers themselves. Bringing experience and wisdom from all paths of life, our volunteer team is able to find their niche here at Ivinson and make a difference in the patient experience.
meet some of our volunteers:
For over 42 years, Donna worked in the school districts of Southern California and in the small town of Forks, Washington. Teaching special education and serving as a school principal, working with people has always been a part of Donna’s life.
After moving to Laramie and in the midst of a pandemic, COVID-19 restrictions put a damper on Donna’s hopes of volunteering at the school district. During a routine visit to Ivinson, Donna learned about volunteer opportunities at Ivinson. She immediately knew it would be a perfect fit.
“I was a candy striper years and years ago in a big hospital in Pasadena, CA,” Donna said. “Back in the 60’s, you wore a striped bibbed apron and you went into hospital and you helped.”
Donna filled out the volunteer application and upon her acceptance, was asked where she would like to volunteer her time. One of the volunteer opportunities stood out to her. She knew she could do a lot of good there and that she had a lot to offer. Donna wanted to volunteer in the Meredith and Jeannie Ray Cancer Center.
In 2019, Donna lost her husband of 49 years, Doug, to his battle with cancer.
Volunteering in the Cancer Center, Donna closely relates to patients and their loved ones traveling from near and far for cancer treatments. Living in Forks, Washington at the time, Donna and Doug would travel four and a half hours to Seattle for his care.
“Radiation vacations is what he would call them,” Donna said of Doug’s sense of humor he kept sharp throughout his treatment. “That’s the kind of guy he was, he was upbeat and positive.”
An upbeat attitude and compassion is what Donna brings with her when she volunteers at Ivinson. She takes pride in providing comfort to patients on good days and bad and offering some comfort in uneasy times.
“Something in me said I want to give back,” Donna said. “I know what the families have gone through, I know what some of the patients are feeling and I just wanted to be able to help in any way I could and encourage them. What I find, is that they are encouraging me. The patients are amazing and the staff is incredible here. They are very caring and compassionate and that’s really something special. Laramie has a tremendous cancer center.”
When she isn’t volunteering, Donna is active in her church community and leads a grief and loss group for women. She spends time with her family and god-children and enjoys stitchery, which she shares with patients and staff at the Cancer Center.
“I encourage anybody that is at all interested in helping folks to take a look at the possibility of volunteering,” Donna encourages. “It’s a good thing to do. It’s not only good for yourself and for your soul, but it’s good for the patients and helps the staff here as well.”
Caroline is a junior psychology student attending the University of Wyoming. Between classes and her work as a CNA, Caroline dedicates her time to helping patients at Ivinson.
Currently on the pre-med track, Caroline joined the Ivinson volunteer team for exposure to the workings of a hospital and the opportunity to help patients.
“I enjoy the people most,” Caroline said. “It’s nice to have a positive impact on the patient experience at Ivinson knowing there are many reasons patients are seeking hospital care.”
Caroline takes pride in being able to make an impression in instances both big and small when helping patients. Remembering a laboring mom she was able to help, Caroline enjoys providing a calming reassurance to patients.
“I have learned a lot,” Caroline said of her time volunteering. “I did not know Ivinson had so many services for such a small hospital. When patients come in unsure what they need, I like being able to help them figure out where they need to go.”
Volunteering for the last year, Caroline spends most of her time between helping guide patients and visitors at the East Patient Entrance.
“I like helping people navigate healthcare,” Caroline said of her role at Ivinson. “I find it reassuring that this is the career path I have picked.”
Caroline hopes to continue volunteering and following her degree, taking up a career in the field of healthcare. While she is drawn to both primary care and psychiatry, she is keeping the door open to possibilities.
“Volunteering allows you to take part in your community in a way that has importance to you,” Caroline said. “I encourage others to take advantage of volunteer opportunities. Ivinson is a small hospital and the staff is friendly and you never know, you may have the opportunity to work with them again in the future. I’ve met a lot of great people that I hope to stay in contact with after I am done volunteering.”
In her free time, Caroline enjoys hiking with her rescue dog Humphrey and finding their next adventure.
Estella “Stel” Spertzel
Serving as a critical care and cardiac nurse for 50 years, Stel has dedicated her life to caring for others. After retiring from the nursing profession in 2015, she moved to Laramie and has called it home ever since.
When COVID-19 vaccines became available, Stel once again was compelled to help. She volunteered with the Albany County COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic to help protect her neighbors and friends.
“I always had a passion for helping others and it turned out to be very rewarding for me,” Stel said. “I’m a retired nurse. I felt it was my duty to help out as much as I can to combat COVID-19. I no longer held my nursing license but I was able to help get patients in the door and registered. I enjoyed it and I was able to help.”
As the vaccine clinic came to a close, Stel didn’t feel she was done making a difference yet. She then reached out to Ivinson to begin the process of joining the Ivinson Auxiliary.
“When I was a nurse, the volunteers always meant a lot to me,” she recalled. “I thought, when I retire, I am going to be able to give back what I appreciated when I was nursing.”
A year into volunteering at Ivinson, Stel can usually be found in the Breast Imaging Center, an area she feels she is able to offer a lot of good. With her extensive nursing background, she likes being able to relate to the patients she encounters.
“I enjoy bringing the ladies in and being able to decrease their anxiety,” Stel said of what she enjoys most of volunteering. Understanding that awaiting screening and diagnostic results can be stressful, she takes pride in putting patients at ease and offering them a warm gown.
When she isn’t helping others, Stel is very active in the community and is a staunch supporter of local athletics. As a season ticket holder to several UW sports, Stel does not miss the opportunity to cheer for the home team. Leading a very active lifestyle in retirement, she enjoys games of pickle ball and getting her steps in at Walk With A Doc, only missing the occasional outing if it’s a game day.
“There are a couple gals I play pickle ball with that I have recommended they come here to volunteer,” Stel said. “We are all retired and wanting to give back. I told them, Ivinson is the place to go. I would recommend them to anyone.”
become a volunteer
If you are interested in any of the various volunteer opportunities at Ivinson or becoming involved with Ivinson’s Auxiliary, we invite you to apply today and learn how you can make a difference.