Some say that people are very focused on themselves today and there are not as many heroes to look up to as there used to be. Maybe so, but that's not how it looks to me, working at Norwalk Hospital where we have more than 400 dedicated, caring, outstanding volunteers. In my view, they are today's heroes.

Volunteers like the ones I interact with daily at the hospital consistently demonstrate a spirit of giving without expecting anything in return. Ask them and more than likely they will tell you what I hear all the time: "I get something back, that's why I do it." It's the personal satisfaction volunteers derive from helping others. This is not exclusive to Norwalk Hospital. There are countless examples of people who volunteer; those who do so for their communities, churches, health and social organizations.

At Norwalk Hospital, volunteers provide comfort and support for patients. In fact, one of our best sources for recruiting new volunteers comes from former patients and their families who experienced the impact of a volunteer firsthand. They say they want to help as they were helped.

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Our volunteers help in virtually every hospital department. They comfort patients in the emergency department, providing blankets or a listening ear. They make teddy bears for pediatric patients and comfort pillows for surgical patients. They provide refreshments for patients in gastroenterology and support the staff in the post anesthesia care unit. They transport patients who need to be discharged and accompany families in the intensive care unit waiting lounge. They help behind the scenes with mailings and organize book sales that benefit hospital services. They are volunteer ambassadors who visit patients and follow-up on matters to enhance the patient's hospital experience. They create floral arrangements and deliver them for patients to brighten their hospital stays. Some patients have been brought to tears because they were so touched from these kind and unexpected gestures. Our volunteers also provide a pet therapy program to benefit patients. They assist patients and families in the Whittingham Cancer Center and in the Smilow Family Breast Health Center and help in a multitude of other ways.

The Norwalk Hospital volunteers are a family and they help to make our patients feel like family, too. During National Volunteer Week, April 21-27, we thank our volunteers for inspiring all of us. I am fortunate to work with heroes every day.

Maura Romaine, director

Community Relations

and Volunteer Services

Norwalk Hospital