Associates in action
Hard work pays off
It may be hard to imagine taking on a volunteer position that on some weeks requires more hours than a job that offers a paycheck.
For Dan Sheridan, MS, RPh, a medication safety pharmacist for OhioHealth Marion General Hospital, he does that willingly and laughs when asked how he finds the time.
“I don’t watch much television,” he says.
Dan has volunteered 376 hours as chairman of the Marion County Park District. In 2011, when funding was cut for the salary of the director of the park district, Dan picked up those responsibilities, as well — without pay.
A few times a week, he stops in the park office to pay bills, but he spends even more time writing countless grant applications — many of them lengthy — to fund construction of a 12.4-mile paved recreational trail, the Marion Tallgrass Trail.
While he may not enjoy writing them, it’s about the outcome. “I enjoy seeing the end result of the hard work pay off,” he says.
“The Tallgrass Trail is a labor of love for many of us,” says Dan. “It’s inspiring to know that this beautiful place will improve the physical and mental health of our community for generations to come.”
In addition to his role with the park, Dan also has been a long-time volunteer on the clinical advisory panel for the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, a Philadelphia-based organization focused on preventing medication errors by offering guidance on best practices.
Gaining experience and inspiration from children in need
Jennifer L. Taylor, CNP, MSN, nurse practitioner with OhioHealth Neurological Physicians, has volunteered 149 hours as part of the medical staff at Flying Horse Farms, a camp experience for children with serious illnesses.
On a picturesque 200 acres in Mt. Gilead, the campers and staff swim, boat, fish, navigate high ropes, perform archery and throw globs of paint at each other — a regular tradition.
“I was pretty nervous going into it,” Jennifer says. “It was a new area to me. I’ve never performed medical care in the outdoors. I’ve worked in hospital and office settings. It was children, and I care for adults.”
Jennifer worked at the camp during the week for children with blood diseases or cancer. While she knew she would gain from the experience, she had no idea how inspiring it would be.
“It was very emotional,” Jennifer says. “These kids have very serious illnesses. They were strong and resilient and willing to try new things. It makes you realize that if kids can do these things, then as adults, we could push on and try new things ourselves.”
Helping in her own backyard
Joanna Bayliss, a data analyst with central scheduling, has volunteered 95 hours with the Westside Food Pantry, a member of Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio.
The Westside Food Pantry is a five-minute drive from the home where she grew up except the west side of her childhood was a lot different from today’s west side. The strip mall that houses the food pantry was once a thriving shopping center; a major mall and movie theater were located nearby. The strip mall has few businesses in it; the mall and the movie theater are long gone. Joanna’s connection to the area is part of her motivation for wanting to help in her former neighborhood, which is now struggling.
Joanna spends one Saturday morning every month volunteering at the food pantry — stocking shelves, bagging groceries and helping people get what they need. Having heard the stories of the people who arrive with empty duffle bags and shopping carts, Joanna finds it easier to put in perspective her own occasional frustrations and disappointments.
“People need help in our own backyards. It’s not just Third World countries. People in our own communities don’t have the basic needs that we take for granted every day,” Joanna says.
Besides the food pantry, Joanna mentors Sha’Re, an eighth-grade student at Linden McKinley STEM Academy. She was introduced to Sha’Re almost two years ago and meets with her during lunch every week. They work together on math, talk about grades and classes, play educational games and set goals for the future. Joanna tries to offer Sha’Re hope that there are opportunities she may not be aware are available to her. In those two years, Sha’Re has joined the student council and is focused on her goal of attending college upon graduation.
“She has so much potential,” Joanna says.
Joanna’s volunteering efforts began in 2010, about a year after she started working at OhioHealth. She volunteered on Community Care Day, the city-wide effort to help social service organizations with projects that can be accomplished in one day. Every year since then, Joanna has signed up to help.