Jody Lancaster, Ransom Memorial Hospital director of volunteer services, said the RMH Auxiliary volunteers are “heroes” during the 85th annual Auxiliary Awards Celebration Tuesday at Sacred Heart Parish Center.

“The world is full of heroes — individuals with a desire to help,” Lancaster said. “With the upcoming affiliation with AdventHealth and the changes it will bring, it is going to take all of us to be heroes, to partner together, to make this a positive change for our hospital and community. I believe every one has the power to create change. My challenge to all of you and to myself is to be that person or ‘hero’ not afraid of change.”

One person who embodies that spirt is Nancy Ferguson, who was selected by the auxiliary volunteers as the 2018 Volunteer of the Year. Ferguson, who works in the gift shop and is the RMH Auxiliary president for the past two years, said it is an honor to serve.

“Your friends felt you were doing a good job,” Ferguson said. “I appreciate the opportunity [to volunteer]. Someone had faith you were going to do a good job. There are many deserving people [for this award].”

Ferguson began volunteering in 2001 and was the driving force behind the mural that brightened up the cafeteria patio and the force behind getting the hospital’s mum sale going.

One of the volunteers that nominated Ferguson for the award said, “She certainly present a positive image of the hospital and auxiliary. She is always cheerful, patient and kind.”

Ferguson said being an RMH volunteer is special. Ferguson’s mentors included her mother, sister and aunt, who all volunteered at the hospital.

“I had one of the early volunteers tell me one time the reason she volunteers at the hospital is because the hospital serves everyone,” Ferguson said. “Not just a certain group or anything like that. That is why I think volunteering at the hospital is important.

“It has given me more than I have given them because I have always been a firm believer in giving back more than you take. This is an excellent opportunity to do that.”

Ferguson said the volunteers are like a family and have giving hearts.

“We have so many people who are giving of their time, energy, time and self,” she said. “It is so selfless. I am proud to be apart of it.”

Janet Peters, RMH board member, echoed those same sentiments.

“It is the service that makes a difference,” Peters said. “I know this year has been a year with a lot of changes. I do know something that will never change will be the service and all the wonderful contributions of the auxiliary. You are wonderful people. I congratulate all of you.”

In 2018, there were 142 people that volunteered their services to the hospital for a total of nearly 17,000 hours.

“It is a big number,” Ferguson said of those hours. “It restores my faith in humanity. I know they make a difference. The staff, Matt {Heyn] and all his people, are so welcoming and so inclusive. They don’t hesitate to let you know you are helping in a great way.”

Lancaster said the volunteers are a big reason behind the success of the hospital.

“It is my pleasure to get to acknowledge and recognize all the nice things all of you do, the time you spend and the hours you share,” Lancaster said.

Frances Swift Distinguished Service Award

Each year, the auxiliary awards an honor named after the first auxiliary president in 1934. Frances Swift served from 1934 to 1953. She was dedicated to the auxiliary, hospital and community.

The 2018 recipient is Golden Peterson, who began volunteering in 1996 in the gift shop when a neighbor thought she needed something to do in the evenings.

She is on the gift shop committee and has been in charge of the scheduling and bookkeeping chores for the past 11 years.

Hourly and yearly awards

50 hours: Helen Cantrell, Belinda Dunfree, Joe Ferguson, Beth Keim, Ron Kimes, Dorothy Rice, Dwayne See.

100 hours: Chris Adkinson, Robert Allen, Cathy Brown, Carol Cochran, Earlene Elliott, John Fritts, Kathy Hinderliter, Sherry Nelson, Kris Peterson, Jean Willard, Ken Woods.

500 hours: Doreen Newby, Fred Searls.

1,000 hours: Roland Bromert, Darlene Kibble, Patty Nelson.

2,000 hours: Phyllis Cline, Linda Jensen.

3,000 hours: Nancy Ferguson.

10,000 hours: Linda Clevenger.

5 years: Helen Cantrell, Phyllis Cline, Linda Roush, Jean Stover.

10 years: Claudia Gibson.

15 years: Roland Bromert, Ginny Lancaster.

25 years: Sandy Lovgren.