Thursday, January 16, 2014

Celebrating Half a Century of Volunteerism at GBMC

In the early years of GBMC, volunteers
pushed a Gift Shop Cart through the
halls, stopping at patient rooms.
Fifty years ago, a group of innovative women, dedicated to the health and well-being of their community, formed the GBMC Volunteer Auxiliary. These women came from the two founding hospitals of GBMC HealthCare — The Hospital for the Women of Maryland, of Baltimore City and Presbyterian Eye, Ear and Throat Charity Hospital — and created a legacy that continues proudly today.

The GBMC Volunteer Auxiliary was formed on November 20, 1963, just one month before construction of the hospital began. Since funds were severely limited in the early days of GBMC, volunteers donated their time and talents wherever they could be valuable, usually in “behind the scenes” roles. Today, more than 450 active volunteers carry on the tradition of giving much-needed help to staff in providing the best patient care. Many volunteers also say they want to “give back” to GBMC, often for care that they or a loved one received.

Over the years, the sole focus of GBMC’s volunteers has remained consistent — to enhance the patient experience through compassionate acts of kindness and support. If you find yourself a patient at GBMC during the holidays, you can expect a volunteer to knock on your door with a beautiful poinsettia to brighten your room. If you are struggling to locate your car, a volunteer will shuttle you around campus until you find it. These small gestures are particularly meaningful.

Carol Kamps once helped to
push the mobile Gift Shop
Cart - 41 years later, she
is still an active volunteer
at the Corner Shop.
“For 50 years, GBMC volunteers have enjoyed the opportunity of serving the needs of their community,” says Martha S. Klima, President of the GBMC Volunteer Auxiliary. “Throughout the 2.25 million hours contributed to GBMC and Gilchrist Hospice Care, the volunteers have given compassionate, joyful care to anxious patients and their family members. Because of their dedication and generous gifts of time and talents, funds have been raised to expand many GBMC programs, which will provide a healthier future for our families and neighbors.” 

From modest contributions to multimillion dollar gifts, Auxiliary members can always be counted on to help GBMC. For many years, the Auxiliary has quietly helped our most vulnerable NICU babies with funds to purchase blanket warmers and special “giraffe” beds to promote their healthy development. The Volunteer Auxiliary supported expansions in the Sandra & Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute, purchased a linear accelerator to deliver radiation treatments for patients of the Sheila K. Riggs Radiation Oncology Center and supported the Cancer Survivorship Program’s annual gathering to celebrate patients and their caregivers.

The Auxiliary has also compassionately given to GBMC’s bereavement program for families who lose children during pregnancy or shortly after birth and to help Gilchrist Hospice Care with the expansion of inpatient care in our community. All gifts, too numerous to mention, have been meaningful to GBMC and our community. The most recent $1 million contribution supported the GBMC Center for Neurology, allowing increased services for the growing number of patients in need of comprehensive neurological treatment for stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other age-related brain conditions.

The generous individuals who join the Auxiliary come to their volunteer work after years of successful careers and raising families, often with little idea of how significant their contribution will be. According to Dr. John B. Chessare, President and CEO of GBMC HealthCare, “Without the countless contributions made by our wonderful volunteers, our HealthCare System would not be able to achieve what it does every day, contributing to the health, healing and hope of our community. We stand in awe of the enormity of their gift of 50 years of time, talent and treasure.”

To learn more about becoming a volunteer at GBMC, visit or call 443-849-2050.

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