For Paul Wagner, volunteering at SOMC was a happy surprise


When Paul Wagner first came to SOMC to learn about becoming a volunteer, he didn’t know what he was signing up for, literally. His sons, feeling that he needed something to help fill his days, had filled out his paperwork and signed him up without telling him.

“My wife had died and I was sitting in my room at Hillview pouting all the time,” Wagner explained. “My son wanted to get me out, so he said ‘Let’s go for a ride.’ I said, ‘Where are we going?’ and he just said, ‘Let’s go.’ He drove me over to SOMC and I said, ‘What are we here for?’ and he said ‘Well, we’ll see.’ Then we went to the Volunteer Office.”

At first, the 96-year-old wasn’t excited about the options for volunteering. But then, he heard something that made him perk up.

“I wasn’t interested at all until they mentioned ‘greeting,’” he said. “I perked up because I greeted at church for 25 years.”

Wagner felt that door greeting was definitely something he could do and, once he started, he enjoyed it even more than he anticipated. What started as a commitment to try it for one day quickly turned into a commitment to come back every day, Monday through Friday, to greet patients and staff as they entered the hospital.

Volunteering as a door greeter gives Wagner the opportunity to meet all sorts of people, which the retired businessman greatly appreciates. “I enjoy meeting people. I was in business before I retired, and I see a lot of my old customers come in. The nurses are all nice, they all speak to me. Several people will come up and talk to me. It gives me something to do other than sit in my apartment.”

Wagner is now seven years into his tenure as a volunteer, and he can still be found diligently at his post by the front doors of the main campus from 12:30 to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. He views himself not just as a greeter, but as a representative of the hospital, which is why he takes pains to make sure he is dapperly dressed.

His dedication is a far cry from his initial impression, when he wasn’t sure if he’d like it and had to be signed up without his knowledge. And he doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon.

“As long as I’m able, I’ll be here.”

If you are interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities at SOMC, call 740-356-8236. You must be at least 15 years old to volunteer.

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