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Volunteers Honored at Annual Luncheon


UAMS Volunteer Luncheon 2014 Julie Moretz (left), associate vice chancellor for patient- and family-centered care at UAMS, and Melissa Fontaine (second from right), chief operating officer at UAMS and associate vice chancellor for clinical programs, stand with award winners Susannah Monk, Karen Littrell and Lisa Yarnell.

Erin Gray and Lisa Yarnell Erin Gray (left), director of UAMS Medical Center Volunteer Services and Auxiliary, gives Lisa Yarnell the Connie Ratcliff Volunteer of the Year Award. Yarnell shared the award with volunteer Karen Littrell.

Jennifer Huie and Karen Littrell Jennifer Huie (left), UAMS volunteer coordinator, gives Karen Littrell the Connie Ratcliff Volunteer of the Year Award.

April 15, 2014 | From the hands that comfort patients in pain to those who guide visitors around the hospital, UAMS recognized all volunteers for their efforts and honored a longtime volunteer who lost her battle with cancer last year at the annual UAMS Medical Center Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon.

Melissa Fontaine, chief operating officer at UAMS and associate vice chancellor for clinical programs, greeted volunteers at the luncheon, while Erin Gray, director of UAMS Medical Center Volunteer Services and Auxiliary, and Jennifer Huie, UAMS volunteer coordinator, recognized three big award winners.

The luncheon was organized by UAMS Medical Center Volunteer Services and Auxiliary to honor the 387 volunteers who worked in 59 different UAMS programs and helped with 13 special events in 2013.

Two volunteers shared the Connie Ratcliff Volunteer of the Year Award, renamed in honor of longtime UAMS volunteer and patient Connie Ratcliff, who lost her battle with cancer last year soon after being named Volunteer of the Year at the event.

“Connie was a fierce advocate for our patients,” Gray said. “She embodies the award and her spirit is still with us. I think of her often when I’m working and I hear her voice saying ‘You can do it.’ It’s a constant reminder for us to keep pushing on and trying to make a difference for our patients and families.”

Translated into monetary contributions, volunteer manpower provided almost $1.6 million in services across the hospital in the last year, Fontaine said. Adding to that, the UAMS Auxiliary gave out more than $60,000 in grants to UAMS programs.

Selected by UAMS volunteers, Susannah Monk, UAMS Aux Crew chair, was named “Volunteer Supervisor of the Year.” Gray praised Monk’s work in forming the UAMS Aux Crew and helping it grow to 36 members. She also helped plan the Rock Town Bacon Throwdown, the crew’s first fundraising event that was a huge success last fall, Gray said.

“She has brought volunteers to UAMS who would have never come to UAMS, and she made them champions for our patients and families,” Gray said. “She has volunteered an amazing amount of hours of her own time.”

Lisa Yarnell was co-awarded the Connie Ratcliff Volunteer of the Year Award. She volunteers in the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute and has worked to expand the Look Good … Feel Better Program to include inpatient services.

“Lisa has made me a better volunteer director,” Gray said. “She never settles and never stops thinking of creative ways to serve our patients. She really took up the torch when Connie passed away.”

Yarnell has worked with cancer patients most of her life and said that volunteering comes natural to her.

“I’m honored and humbled,” Yarnell said. “I am a stem-cell transplant patient myself and a caregiver to my husband who was also here at UAMS. I feel that I am now being used as a vessel by the Lord to use my knowledge and experience to help others.”

Karen Littrell was also co-awarded the Connie Ratcliff Volunteer of the Year Award. She volunteers in the UAMS neonatal intensive care unit and Family Resource Center.

“Karen always agrees to fill in for a volunteer every time we ask her, and she finds ways to make her assignments better and more proficient,” Huie said. “To her, there is no black or white, rich or poor. She is there for all patients.”

Littrell said it is an honor to be recognized for her work with her friend Ratcliff.

“I remember Connie, and just to be put in the same category as her is an honor,” Littrell said. “I volunteer because I like to be around people and I meet all kinds of wonderful people from around the world here. I always walk away from work being so enriched by what happened that day. I get so much more from volunteering then I give.”

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