Patients at Methodist Rehabilitation Center deal with the effects of stroke, traumatic brain injury, and spinal cord injury. One of the goals of rehabilitation is to help the patient return to his/her former life, and a job is a vital step in that process.
There are currently 100 volunteers in the volunteer program. As volunteers talk about their volunteer experiences to others they encounter, others come to join in helping people with disabilities realize that they can do almost anything they did before their trauma.
One of the volunteers is now retired from her position as Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and gives her time to visit patients and explain to them the options open to them in the work place. She assists them with finding a job suitable for them when they leave the hospital. This type of one-on-one help would be too expensive for most patients, but they receive this assistance at no charge thanks to the volunteer program.
The volunteer program has been in place since the hospital opened in 1975, and they are a permanent organization. The volunteers make a difference in patients’ lives by reading, writing letters, delivering mail and newspapers, pushing wheelchair patients to occupational, physical and respiratory therapy, celebrating patients’ birthdays, and many other acts each day.
A serious social problem for people with disabilities is filling their time after they leave the hospital. One of the ways volunteers have helped solve this problem in an innovative way is with art lessons for patients. A volunteer artist and volunteer art teacher met with patients to teach basic skills. Another volunteer donated frames so that each participant could have a piece of their artwork framed to take with them when they went home. Some patients have discovered talent and ability that they had no idea they possessed. They gain a hobby and possibly even a source of income.
As volunteers help to change the attitudes of individual patients, their families, and their friends, community attitudes will also gradually change. When helping a patient eat, the volunteers show with words and body language that it is their privilege to help with this most basic of human needs. In small increments, these volunteers are changing in the minds of individuals.