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Volunteering is a Blessing for Charleston Woman

May 26, 2017 2:09 p.m.

Pam Waddell loves making a difference by sharing homemade crafts that bring a small bit of comfort and joy to patients at Sarah Bush Lincoln.

“My goal is to make people smile,” she said. As a hospital volunteer, Waddell works with a group that makes and delivers homemade crafts to people receiving care. She also helps decorate for special events and works in the hospital’s gift shop. “It’s a real blessing to get to do this. I have gained so many wonderful experiences and made many friendships,” she said.

Always quick to lead a hand and work extra hours when needed, Waddell was surprised to earn honors as Volunteer of the Year in 2017 at the Guild’s annual banquet. “I’m extremely humbled. There are so many others that are so deserving,” she said. Waddell was especially touched when her husband escorted her parents to hear the announcement, a surprise arranged by Volunteer Services Director Colleen Stoner. “It’s so overwhelming to get acknowledged for doing something fun and totally unexpected.”

Waddell started volunteering at Sarah Bush Lincoln about three years ago following a suggestion from her husband. She had stopped working to help her parents around their farm when her father became ill and found she had some extra time on her hands.

“I thought it was a great idea. They have arts and crafts and they have a gift shop and I thought I could do both,” she said. With a giving spirit, Waddell was also motivated to give back and continue a tradition that her father started.

“My father used to make and donate wooden memory boxes to Sarah Bush Lincoln for parents who experienced a stillbirth or infant loss,” she said. “I’m not sure what motivated him to do it, but I feel like I’m carrying on the tradition – just in a different way.”

Always smiling and giving of her time, Waddell loves organizing arts and craft projects and sharing her creative talents to brighten people’s days. It’s a natural fit since Waddell is a former florist and has created Christmas wreaths, garland and greenery for years, first at Blair Tree Farm, until its closing, and currently at Hager Tree Farm near Charleston.

Waddell especially likes delivering the gifts and is touched by the connections she has made with patients. “Valentine’s Day sticks out in my mind. We made some old-fashioned cards with doilies, lace and ribbons and it brought back memories for many of the women,” she said. “Sometimes you give something to someone and they just want to talk or to hold someone’s hand. It’s very moving and I feel blessed to be able to provide a little bit of comfort.”

Touched by people’s reactions, Waddell and her husband started coming out to Sarah Bush Lincoln on Christmas Day and other holidays to deliver homemade gifts to patients. “My family celebrates Christmas as the spirit of Christmas and we want patients to know that someone remembers them and cares about them,” Waddell said. “I just feel that the world needs a little more kindness and it’s so rewarding to brighten someone’s day.”

While Waddell joins other volunteers for arts and crafts day each Thursday, she hopes to help set up evening crafting hours for other volunteers and service organization in the future.  “It’s made a big impact on me. People talk so much about the bad things in life and I try to find a positive in everything,” she said. “It’s become very beneficial for me to know that I can have an impact – and it’s fun.”

For more information on how to become a Sarah Bush Lincoln volunteer, contact Colleen Stoner, SBL Volunteer Services director at 217 258-2500.

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