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Neoga Woman Makes a Difference Through Volunteering

August 17, 2020 11:26 a.m.

  • Jacqui and Heart Center staff members

    Jacqui McKibben (center) with SBL Heart Center staff members (left to right) Amber Thies, Brenda Powell (retired), Casey Hargis, Shannon Storm and Kari Gard.

  • Heart Center Volunteer Jacqui McKibben
Jacqui and Heart Center staff members Heart Center Volunteer Jacqui McKibben

Jacqui McKibben has made a big impression on both patient and staff members in Sarah Bush Lincoln’s Heart Center since becoming a volunteer two years ago.


Going above and beyond to help anyway she can, Jacqui was recently named the SBL Guild’s 2020 Volunteer of the Year, a title she shares with fellow volunteer Sharon Fox. “I was floored. I really was. It was such a wonderful surprise,” she said. “I don’t need recognition, but it’s certainly nice to hear that people appreciate what I’m doing and that they consider my work valuable.”


SBL Heart Center staff members presented Jacqui with the honor and raved about her contributions during a surprise gathering hosted by SBL Volunteer Services. “She has the heart of servitude. She steps in to help whether she’s asked or not,” office assistant Shannon Storm said. “She has a smile on her face and is always willing to help wherever she is needed in whatever capacity. The Heart Center greatly appreciates her.”


In a nomination letter, Heart Center staff members wrote, “Jacqui is so much more than a volunteer. She is a hard worker, a dedicated volunteer and a friend. Jacqui quickly built a rapport with us all and we look forward to Tuesday and Thursday when she is here working with us. We don’t think of her as a volunteer, she is our coworker. She is extremely hard working and does not hesitate to jump right in to help our patients and staff with whatever is needed without being asked. Jacqui has an irreplaceable personality. She loves volunteering and it shows with each patient she encounters. She shows such compassion and many won’t leave without saying hello or goodbye to her.”


Jacqui decided to volunteer as a way to keep busy after her husband, Tommie, passed away in September 2018. “Dr. [Kiran] Joag mentioned it to me before he retired because he knows I like to keep busy, so I thought I’d give it a try,” Jacqui said. “Volunteering is a way of serving my community and giving back to the hospital. The Regional Cancer Center was absolutely spectacular during my husband’s illness and they kept him alive much longer than expected.”


Jacqui chose to volunteer in the SBL’s newly expanded Heart Center, which had just opened at the time.

“My husband also had heart problems and it was the perfect fit for me,” Jacqui said. While this is her first experience working in healthcare, “I enjoy volunteering and helping people. It’s very fulfilling.” Jacqui and her husband were well-known in the area as the owners and operators of the former Tomaso’s Restaurant in Mattoon.


While she was forced to take a few months off during the pandemic, Jacqui is happy to be back and the staff is thrilled to have her. “Jacqui has made a measurable impact while volunteering at the Heart Center. She not only helps us as staff members, but the amount of time and care she shows for all patients as they walk through the door is amazing. She has truly inspired me to become more involved in the community. She is greatly missed on the days she is not here,” office assistant Amber Thies said.


Jacqui said she plans to continue volunteering for as long as she is able. “I look forward to it,” she said. “I’m a big supporter of Sarah Bush Lincoln and I enjoy giving back.”


For more information on how to become a Sarah Bush Lincoln volunteer, contact Tracy Haddock, SBL Volunteer Services supervisor at 217 258-2500.

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