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Volunteers honored for service to Adventist Hinsdale Hospital

Longtime Adventist Hinsdale Hospital volunteers Nan Barnhart, of Clarendon Hills, left, and Judy Nelson, of Downers Grove.

Hinsdale – Judy Nelson of Downers Grove is no stranger to volunteering – at schools, assisted living facilities, and her church. When her youngest child went to college, a friend suggested she volunteer at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital. That was 25 years ago and she is still volunteering there as an escort.

Nelson, along with fellow longtime volunteer Nan Barnhart of Clarendon Hills, received special honors April 11 at the 59th annual volunteer recognition luncheon at Ruth Lake Country Club in Hinsdale for 25 or more years of volunteer service to the hospital. Barnhart has been volunteering at the hospital for 35 years and currently works in the family care nursery, transporting babies and holding them when they fuss.

“Each of our volunteers contribute in a special way to our hospital’s healing environment,” said Sher Fox, director of volunteer services at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital. “We are grateful to every one of them.”

Last year, 506 volunteers provide a total of 54,424 hours of dedicated service to Adventist Hinsdale Hospital. These hours equate to a labor “value” of more than $1.2 million. In the volunteer department’s 60-year existence, volunteers have logged nearly 2.3 million cumulative hours.

Nelson said volunteering as a hospital escort helps her stay active.

“I didn’t want to sit at a desk, so I get to run around the hospital,” Nelson said regarding her work as an escort. “Mainly I help when patients are discharged. I take the wheelchair to the room, take them to the door of the hospital and out to their car. I help them get in the car if they need it. I also help when new mothers are discharged so I get to see all the babies.”

The mother of a son and a daughter, Nelson helped out in the classroom and during outings and special events when her children were in elementary school. There weren’t many opportunities when they reached high school, so she took her talents elsewhere. Nelson volunteered for 15 years at an assisted living center and she is still very involved in volunteering for Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Downers Grove, which has been a part of her life since childhood.

Nelson is one of four women at the church who sew baptism bibs, or small baptism gowns for babies in the neonatal intensive care unit at a suburban medical center. The gowns are given to the parents who choose to have their babies baptized while in the hospital.

Nelson is involved in another labor of love which is even more special than her volunteer work. She became a grandmother two years ago when her son and his wife had a daughter.

“Having a grandchild was worth waiting for,” Nelson said. “I babysit two days a week at their home in Oswego. My granddaughter is so much fun.”

Nelson and her husband Richard, a retired municipal bond trader, also have a daughter who lives in Michigan.

She looks forward to volunteering for as long as she is able.

“When people leave the hospital, many want to talk about why they were admitted and how the treatment went – and I’m glad to listen,” Nelson said. “They talk about what they’ve been through. So many of them appreciate the volunteers, and they are grateful for the good care they receive.”

Barnhart has donated more than 11,000 hours of her time to the family care nursery since she started volunteering in 1977. This year, her role was especially vital. As the floor prepared for hospital construction and required more volunteers, Barnhart trained them. She donated many hours making caps for the newborns. She has also served on the volunteer board as both recording secretary and past president.

Through the years, Barnhart has also volunteered for the PTA and served in the Cook County Jail as part of The PACE (Program Activity for Correctional Education) Institute. There, Barnhart helped teach Bible study and prepare inmates for their GED. She also volunteers at Christ Church of Oak Brook and participated in a church mission trip to Romania.

But volunteering in the hospital nursery in Barnhart’s favorite, whether she’s transporting babies to and from the nursery for exams, dressing them, cleaning up cribs, holding fussy babies or fetching supplies.

“I love babies; newborns are my favorite age and the nursery is such a happy place,” Barnhart said. “I’ve been very blessed in life and I wouldn’t want to just sit back and revel in it. God tells us to serve our neighbors and I just want to give back to society.”

For more information on volunteering at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital, call (630) 856-4000.

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Adventist Midwest Health includes Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, Adventist GlenOaks Hospital, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital. To find a physician, visit www.keepingyouwell.com.

Media contact: Lisa Parro, senior public relations specialist, Adventist Midwest Health, Lisa.parro@ahss.org; 630-856-2354