Thank You

As noted it’s Volunteer Week so Middlesex Hospital hosted its annual dinner. Larry and I went, knowing that we’d know almost no one. We didn’t, but it didn’t matter. With 500 people, almost no one knew anyone. The incoming CEO said this small (circa 300 beds) hospital had 700 volunteers. If the dinner is any indication, we show up.

The evening did have its total delights — seeing Sue, who trained me, win a pin for serving 1,000; running into Bobbi, whom I’ve known since we worked together at the Middletown Press who is starting as a volunteer on Monday; seeing the name of Peter, my former boss, on the 1,000 volunteer list; enjoying a conversation with a colleague of Larry’s sister (God bless the man who teaches seventh graders!). His wife works in the ER, and he was among the “lost” husbands who managed to bond.

The program was delightful in being much too short. I would love to have heard more from the in-coming CEO. But we suffered from lack of service. I had been to Riverhouse in Haddam once before for a fund-raiser. With a buffet, a speaker and overall relaxation, it felt right. This was wrong. There were 500 people and eight servers. A few puny hors d’oeuvres. Doors opened promptly at 6:30 for dinner. Kate welcomed everyone and food started arriving. It was soup that I couldn’t eat. Who makes minestrone with beef? A lo-o-ong wait and then an overly garlicky Caesar salad arrived. An even longer wait and the few servers began arriving with the food. We had finished our entrees by the time the table next to us was served. One of the servers bumped into Larry  three times, never said a word. Many of the guests left as soon as the speeches and acknowledgments were over, and by the time I got my tea after the coffee had been cleared we were the second to last table to leave.

But I will cherish Dennis McCann, the hospital chaplain, who delivered the most eloquent prayer. He acknowledged the volunteers and inspired us with the energy of love and praise. More important for me he prayed that our energy and healing would go out to the victims of the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile and to people suffering all over the world. Thank you, Dennis, for increasing our benefits with love.

I know the hospital benefits from our time, but I feel that I get back as more than I give.

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