For many people, retirement means no more traffic, waking to the sound of early alarms or battling the rat race to get ahead.
But for volunteers at Rollins Brook Community Hospital in Lampasas, retirement will just have to wait.
Take Dorothy Derwin, for example. She is part of a group of 31 volunteers who work rotating shifts greeting hospital visitors, answering questions and pointing people in the right direction. She has volunteered at the hospital for 12 years and, at 95, carries the distinction of being the oldest volunteer.
“I was encouraged to start volunteering by my friend, Faye Mullins,” Derwin said. “I worked for more than 50 years as a paralegal and legal secretary. When I started, the hospital was very shorthanded, and I enjoy helping and seeing people. I know quite a few people in the county, and when you stay at home, you don’t get to see them.”
Derwin works one four-hour shift per week, on Monday afternoons, but stays busy playing bridge and other card games when she’s not at the hospital.
Friend and fellow volunteer Faye Mullins shares Derwin’s desire to help others. She believes it’s important for Lampasas to continue providing health care services in a growing, rural area.
“I’m all about community. Our area needs this hospital, and it has been known to save quite a few people just by having a local emergency room and the other services it provides as a member of the Metroplex Health System,” Mullins said.
Many years of multiple owners and funding issues once forced the hospital to close its doors, but the facility reopened in December 1991 through hard work and the generosity of the community and is currently managed by Metroplex Health System.
Wanda Canales, who serves as the volunteer coordinator, began volunteering eight years ago.
She also took on the role of membership chairman and maintains the volunteers’ schedules, membership base and prepares monthly reports.
“I retired as a chief juvenile probation officer in Lampasas and Bell counties with more than 25 years of service,” Canales said. “I traveled quite a bit before I started volunteering, but what I like most about this job is the versatility and the satisfaction of helping others.
“I can be of service to someone, and there’s always some activity going on that keeps your mind and your body busy.
“Not one day or shift is the same when you’re dealing with people.”
Canales credits the volunteers for helping the hospital staff achieve a medical environment that is thriving in Lampasas.
“We have a very good group of volunteers; there are always people who can fill in when necessary,” she said. “In doing this, you are not only helping the hospital but helping the community in a rural area. Everybody knows, or is familiar with, the faces that walk in the door, and that helps them feel better by taking their mind off their problems.”