Hinsdale – For Ellen Potter, battling multiple sclerosis means enduring occasional weakness, numbness and tingling in her legs, arm tremors, and dealing with various cognitive issues.
Yet nothing energizes the 69-year-old Willowbrook resident like volunteering in Adventist Hinsdale Hospital’s surgical waiting area. Every week during her shift, Potter greets families of surgical patients, notifies families when loved ones are out of surgery, answers general questions and lets them know when the surgeon is ready to give them an update.
“I do any little thing that makes them more comfortable,” Potter said. “By the end of the day, I come home feeling happy and satisfied that I made someone’s day better.”
Potter’s attitude of serving others in a Christ-like way began in childhood when she was encouraged to put others first. The oldest of four children, Potter not only cared for younger siblings, but also became a popular neighborhood babysitter by age 10.
Her giving extends beyond the hospital doors. In addition to helping her large family – which includes eight children, 19 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren with twins on the way – Potter delivers her homemade chocolate chip cookies, as well as her specialty bread – zucchini – to anyone needing a lift.
“My whole life, I’ve been a non-professional caregiver,” Potter said. “I just enjoy helping people and making them happy, wherever and whenever I can. I like bringing Jesus’ love into others’ lives and am committed to the mission of Adventist Hinsdale Hospital.”
Potter, who recently was recognized as volunteer of the month, began volunteering at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital in 2010. Her hospital volunteer service started when she first volunteered 30 years ago at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital, where she transported patients. Potter’s sister-in-law, Mary Potter, a volunteer chaplain at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital, was named volunteer of the month earlier this year.
Because Potter no longer has sufficient arm strength to push wheelchairs, she first worked at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital’s information desk before moving to the surgical waiting area. She enjoys interacting with people and is happy to assist anywhere she is needed. To date, Potter’s service has added up to more than 260 volunteer hours.
At home, Potter is busy enjoying family, friends, yoga and photography. One wall of her home is covered with large pictures of all 19 grandchildren at a young age, each wearing a different hat. Other photos are on display in her condo building.
Sher Fox, director of volunteer services at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital, praised Potter for her service.
“Ellen’s commitment to our mission of extending the healing ministry of Christ is a blessing to our department and everyone who comes into contact with her,” Fox said.
To volunteer at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital, call 630-856-4000.
Adventist Midwest Health, part of Adventist Health System, includes Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, Adventist GlenOaks Hospital, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital. To find a physician, visit www.keepingyouwell.com.