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Bolingbrook honors volunteers

Bolingbrook – A thankful Jeanette Meeks started volunteering at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital in 2001 after undergoing quadruple bypass surgery at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital, Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital’s sister hospital. Meeks, who still goes to cardiac rehabilitation at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, was one of 28 volunteers honored for their service April 28 at the Bolingbrook Golf Club.

The volunteers dedicated 13,000 hours of service to the hospital in 2008. The theme for this year’s appreciation event was “Priceless.”

“I can’t say how much money our volunteers save the hospital because their service is worth so much more than that,” said Jody Heilstedt, director of volunteer services. “You can’t put a price on a hug, a smile, a touch and by going the extra mile for a person.”

A Woodridge resident, Meeks has dedicated more than 1,000 hours to the hospital. For her dedication, she and two other volunteers received special honors at the event. Bolingbrook residents Norma Chelseth, a volunteer since 2005, and Sam Rivera, a volunteer since 2002, were honored for serving more than 500 volunteer hours at the hospital.

All started volunteering when the facility was a stand-alone emergency room known as Adventist Bolingbrook Medical Center. Twice a week, Meeks assists Heilstedt in the volunteer office. On Friday afternoons, she volunteers in the day surgery department.

“Jeanette takes care of things when I can’t be there,” Heilstedt said. “She’s a wonderful, warm, caring person who loves to volunteer. She’s always glad to be here.”

Whether Meeks answers the telephones and takes messages, stuffs envelopes, makes beds or pushes wheelchairs, her goal is to make that personal connection with the patient. “It’s very much a complimentary job,” Meeks said. “Everyone at the hospital always says they’re so glad for our help, but it’s easy because everyone is so pleasant. It’s a good feeling for me knowing I’ve helped somebody.”

Meeks, a widow, was married to Robert. She has five children and 12 grandchildren. She retired from Rockwell International.

As a volunteer, Rivera follows in the footsteps of his wife Christine who also has served many volunteer hours. He greets people in the emergency room.

“I really enjoy being around the people,” Rivera said. “I really feel like I’m doing something to help them.”

In the past, Rivera delivered meals to home-bound individuals until a stroke curtailed his driving privileges. He appreciates the opportunity to serve at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital.

“He is active in the community in addition to volunteering for the hospital,” Heilstedt said. “He is dapper and funny.”