Sarah Bush Lincoln presented Jean Jones with the Volunteer of the Year 2021 award on April 23. Jones was selected among numerous, accomplished volunteers for her dedication to Sarah Bush Lincoln’s mission to serve others not only at SBL, but in her free time.
Jones, a former oncology and hospice nurse, moved to the area in 2014 from Rockford and decided the best way to make friends would be by volunteering. A hospital seemed like the natural choice for her as a former healthcare professional. Seven years later, Jones is “enjoying every moment” of volunteering at SBL. The Mattoon resident’s favorite places to volunteer are the SBL Regional Cancer Center and SBL Guild Gift Shop. In 2021, Jones has especially liked working at the COVID-19 vaccine clinics.
“Everyone who comes to get their vaccine is so grateful, and there is this feeling of hope,” Jones said.
Jones has dedicated her life to serving others. In 2009, she fulfilled a life-long goal to become a kidney donor – at 69 years old. One of her friends knew someone in need of organ transplant and shared that with Jones. She immediately tested her blood to see if she was a match with the donor and called a nephrologist to see if she was still eligible to donate a kidney at her age. She was cleared on both accounts due to her perfect health.
“I asked the doctor how many years I could give her, and he said 10 to 15 years,” Jones said. “There was no question that I would donate my kidney to her.”
Jones’ nominators cite her friendly disposition and can-do attitude as reasons she benefits the hospital. She serves on the SBL Guild board, helps at the food pantry, talks patients through chemo treatment, and is always willing to take on shifts at the gift shop later at night or last-minute.
“She will stay late without being asked and will not take no for an answer at times! This volunteer truly embodies the spirit of all things Sarah Bush Lincoln,” one of Jones’ nominators said.
Kathy Clay, one of Jones’ two daughters, said her mother constantly searches for ways to help other people such as donating 100 gallons of blood and quilting numerous face masks during the pandemic.
“My mother gets that she has one life to live to the fullest and always seeks ways to give to others,” Clay said.
Jones has been an SBL volunteer for seven years, putting in 2,242 hours, but she plans to add even more. As part of her award, she received an engraved, wooden box with her name and two pins denoting her accomplishment, along with a sash, flowers, and yellow “Thank you for BEE-ing a volunteer” sugar cookies with bees on them.
“Volunteering at Sarah Bush Lincoln is so fun! I call it ‘going to work’ since I wake up needing a purpose for my day. And I certainly find purpose here at SBL,” Jones said.
For more information about SBL Volunteer Services, please contact Tracy Haddock, Volunteer Services Director, at 217 258-4180, or visit our website at https://www.sarahbush.org/volunteerservices/.