Laurie Overhoff of Lehigh Acres was given the surprise of her life when Liz Eilf, chairman of the Volunteers of Lehigh Regional Medical Center, announced her name and asked her to come to the front of the cafeteria to receive a plaque and a corsage.
"I can't believe it. I don't believe it. I am really surprised," she shouted out when her name was announced.
Overhoff's recognition was announced just after a brief meeting of the volunteers with Eilf presiding. There was a welcome from Joanie Jeannette, the president and CEO of Lehigh Regional Medical Center, who said she appreciated all that the many volunteers did for the hospital and its employees. The event was held April 18.
"I thank you for all that you do each day and the warm welcome to you give our patients and our employees and those who come to visit the hospital," Eilf said.
April is Happy Volunteer Month and Eilf, who has oversees activities of the volunteers and the workings in the hospital's gift shop, also thanked the many volunteers who were on hand not only for the short business meeting, but for the buffet prepared by the hospital's cafeteria staff. A very large birthday cake sat on the buffet table and it was decorated with beautiful and colorful flowers.
Eilf reminded those present to get the word out about the scholarship applications for Leigh students who want to earn a college scholarship. All applications must be returned by May 10. The applications are available at the main desk as you enter the hospital at 1500 Lee Blvd.
There are 57 volunteers who do various jobs all over the hospital. Most visitors to the hospital meet them at the entrance desk when entering. They are readily available to direct visitors to a patient's room. And nearby is the hospital's gift shop where volunteers also give of their time. Profits from the gift shop go toward the scholarships.
With so many volunteers giving of their time, Eilf said they have saved the hospital more than $83,000 in labor costs for 2012. That figure came, Eilf said, when you multiply the 12,180 hours of hours given by so much an hour, close to what a minimum wage earner would get.
"Our volunteers give of their time all over the hospital, assisting where they are needed," Eilf said. She keeps a schedule with the help of others as to where volunteers are to be assigned.
When Overhoff accepted her award, Eilf pinned a corsage on her top and Overhoff chided Eilf not to hurt her, bringing laugher from the volunteers who filled the cafeteria.
Overhoff said she had lost her husband four years ago and thought she would give her time to volunteer in memory of him. It also has helped her to get out of the house and help others, which she said has been a tremendous help for her. But she has done volunteering for others before.
"I like people. I was a housewife for years. We moved here from Fort Myers in 2003 and my husband, Ernest Overhoff, passed away in September of 2009 and that is when I began to volunteer at LRMC following his death.
She was a senior aide from 2006 to 2009 at Lehigh Community Services where Eilf had been for years as director. She later served as a senior aide under Charlotte Rae Nicely.
From 2009 to the present she has been a volunteer at LRMC. She also spent some time volunteering at Hope Hospice and she is very active at her church, Christ United Methodist Church, and has been a volunteers to answer the telephones there.
In July of 2009, she also volunteered at the Kiwanis for a few weeks at the club's thrift store on Homestead Rd.
"She always is ready to help. If someone asks, she does it with a smile. Whether it's a hospital patient, an employee here at LRMC, a volunteer here or a visitor," Eilf said.
Overhoff, who is 61, said she enjoys coming to the hospital and meeting others and offering her help.
"I get a lot out of it," she said with a big smile, one of the ways most people know her.
At the end of the meeting before volunteers were able to enjoy the variety of food prepared for them, each was given a service pin for their years and hours of service.
"I am very proud of our volunteers," Eilf said. "We always need more though. Anyone can volunteers over the age of 18, male or female. All they have to do is get in touch with me," she said. "They can work the number of hours that works out for them."