When Maureen Newton’s husband was transferred to a new job in Columbia, South Carolina, in 2002, it took four years for her to wrap up her own work and join him. A hairdresser for 43 years, Newton was deeply connected to her community in Anderson, South Carolina, and volunteered at the local hospital’s oncology department, tending to the women patients with characteristic TLC. At first, in her new home north of Columbia, Newton felt disconnected from the community. So, she decided to volunteer again, this time at Palmetto Health Baptist in the Nesting Place for new mothers and their babies.
What inspires you to volunteer?
I just know how wonderful it feels to make somebody else feel good. I started volunteering back in Anderson, doing hair for the ladies in the oncology ward. When I’d leave them, it looked like they’d been to the beauty salon, even though they hadn’t gotten out of bed. That meant a lot to me. Here in Columbia, volunteering is a way for me to connect to the community and feel fulfilled.
Describe your volunteer role at Palmetto Baptist.
Honestly, I do whatever is necessary. In the Nesting Place, we change the babies, feed them, rock them, give them a bath – they don’t like their baths – and help the mothers with whatever they need. I guess I’m a gal Friday. Loving on those newborn babies is the greatest joy in the world!
Why is it important to you to support your community in this way?
That’s a hard question. I don’t know if it’s more helping me or helping the community. I had to give up my life to move here with my husband when he was transferred. It was tough. This has been a lifesaver for me. I’ve made friends and feel that I’m making a difference.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your volunteer service?
Gosh, I don’t feel like I’ve been challenged at all. I feel like I can always do more.
Why do you think it’s important to give back?
I’ve just always felt that way, and I’m the only one in my family who does. I feel like I have done so well in life, it’s important to help others. I’m always on the look out at the hospital for someone who needs help walking, or finding their way. I just love helping people.
What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?
I’ve learned a lot about the medical field, watching the doctors and nurses do their jobs.
What do you want people to learn from your story?
That if you’re looking for some kind of inner peace, inner fulfillment, volunteering can do that for you. I work really hard those four hours every Friday but I leave with a smile on my face and I can’t wait to come back.