Let’s face it – 155,803 is a lot of something, no matter what you’re counting.
And when you’re counting the number of hours volunteers gave to the Milwaukee VA Medical Center last year, that something is really something else.
A greeter at the East Entrance helps a Veteran find his appointment at the Milwaukee VA. Our Milwaukee VA volunteers donated more than 155,000 hours to the medical center in 2011.
When you count up how much those hours would be worth if they were getting a paycheck, then add all the monetary and non-monetary donations over the last year, that number would be $348,681.94.
“I don’t know what we would do without them,” said Denise Jashinsky, chief of Voluntary Services. “They are always here. It doesn’t matter if it is 90 degrees or 30 below zero. It doesn’t matter if traffic is backed up for hours because of a Brewers game. They are here. They’re here giving information, driving Veterans, visiting people in the hospital, calling bingo, you name it.”
The Milwaukee VA will honor those volunteers April 18 with the annual Volunteer Awards and Recognition Ceremony, 10 a.m. to noon at the Italian Community Center.
The special day features awards, lunch and a polka band.
For many of the volunteers this is a lot more than just a job, Jashinsky said.
“They don’t have to do this. They want to do this. They want to help people. They really are a family,” she said.
When people in the Voluntary Services lost loved ones or needed a helping hand at home, Jashinsky said, it was the volunteers – many who have been here 20 years or more – who stepped to the plate.
“We have housewives, professionals, factory workers, young veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, retirees, people who are unemployed, you name it,” Jashinsky said. “Many of them say they just want to give back.”
If you think it makes Jashinsky cry, you’re right.
“They are just wonderful, wonderful people.”
How wonderful? Judge for yourself with this collection of some of our volunteer stories ...
Howard Cole doesn't do what he has to do, but that's OK with him. You can find him at the VA seven days a week, manning the Army-Navy Union desk, visiting patients or helping Veterans cut through some red tape. He does that a lot, building up more than 30,000 volunteer hours since starting in 1998. Read his story here.
Volunteering has been in Bob Gibbons’ blood since high school, and he’s got the history to prove it.
The Army Veteran and longtime Milwaukee VA volunteer has given decades of service to others, and Guardian Credit Union is returning the favor by naming a college scholarship in his honor. Read his full story here.
In one day alone, Tony Busalacchi clocked in 1,644 times he said "Hello" to someone walking through the East Entrance. Although he only mans the volunteer station for four hours every Thursday, Tony makes sure everyone is greeted coming and going, and he tries to get a smile out of each one of them. For more on the Milwaukee VA's friendliest volunteer, click here.
Volunteers Lisa Wermuth and Kim Poklar look over some of the clothes available at no charge for women Veterans.
Female Veterans know they have a place to call home at the Milwaukee VA, which specializes in gender-specific healthcare. We also have resources available for women Veterans who may need a change of wardrobe for job interviews and more. Read the full story here.