With a little extra time on her hands and new to the community, Nandini Joag decided to put it to good use and meet new people. That was 28 years ago and last week, she was named Sarah Bush Lincoln volunteer of the year for 2016.
Nandini was new to town when she came to Sarah Bush Lincoln to volunteer her time and learn new skills. What she accomplished over the years was helping others through difficult times. SBL Volunteer Services Director Colleen Stoner called Nandini “an extremely valuable volunteer” who has logged 4,150 hours of volunteering since coming to Sarah Bush Lincoln in 1988. After her husband, Internist Kiran Joag, MD, joined the Sarah Bush Lincoln medical staff, she started volunteering but the reason she got involved runs deeper.
Nandini began volunteering her time in the Regional Cancer Center as a way to honor her mother who unexpectedly passed away after a battle with cancer. “I find the work really fulfilling and I’d like to think that I have helped people through some tough times,” she said. “I bring a positive attitude to work with me and look for ways to help people in the cancer center.” Sometimes, she helps the staff, but most often she helps the patients and their families. In many cases, she listens to what people have to say because sometimes cancer can be a lonely disease and people may need to talk with someone. Volunteering at the hospital gives me a sense of pride and it makes me happy because I’m trying to improve the lives of community members by just being there for them,” she added.
Nandini says that people at Sarah Bush Lincoln are a “team and a family. Together, we can accomplish services that we alone cannot.” She is touched to receive this honor, “especially because it is recognition by my fellow volunteers.” Nandini’s commitment to service is illustrated in several ways. For example, she serves on the Guild board as a chairperson for all volunteers at the Regional Cancer Center. Nandini coordinates volunteers’ schedules and works as a liaison between cancer center staff and volunteers to assist patients and their families. She provides nonmedical help to the cancer center staff by guiding and leading patients to radiology when that is necessary and listening to patients and their families.
In addition to her work in the Regional Cancer Center, Nandini also volunteers as a clerk in the Gift Shop, with proceeds that support healthcare scholarships and other guild initiatives. She helps to plan, display and promote sales of various items in the shop and she has also volunteered on fundraising committees for the guild and its associated scholarships through the years. According to Nandini, she said that the volunteer team at Sarah Bush “generates substantial work hours, saving the organization manpower and resources.” After 28 years volunteering at Sarah Bush Lincoln, Nandini says she is still excited to be a part of Sarah Bush Lincoln and recommends it for others who have a few hours of spare time to contribute.