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Lancaster: Searls a special volunteer

Greg Mast
gmast@ottawaherald.com
Fred Searls was selected as the 2020 AdventHealth Ottawa Auxiliary Volunteer of the Year. He received the award Tuesday and sat in an easy chair throughout the drive-by awards ceremony.

Tuesday was a surprising day for Fred Searls.

He received a call from the AdventHealth Ottawa staff to meet for lunch in the hospital cafeteria.

“We have one of your favorite lunches, but we don’t have enough people to bring it to you,” Searls said he was told.

It was a turkey dinner and all the fixings.

He was met by a host of people and was presented the 2020 AdventHealth Ottawa Auxiliary Volunteer of the Year award.

“I never gave this a thought,” said Searls, who volunteers as a cashier in the cafeteria. “I have a lot to live up to. It gives me satisfaction to know that I am still doing good (things).”

Jody Lancaster, director of volunteer services, said Searls is a one-of-a-kind volunteer.

“Fred is a special volunteer, the type of volunteer (that) volunteer directors would like to clone,” Lancaster said. “You know he is doing a great job when the staff is asking how he is doing and when he will be back.”

The award is steeped in tradition at the hospital. Volunteers nominate and select the winner.

Those who nominated Searls said he is the kindest man, always happy and smiling. Other trait that made Searls stand out were his willing heart and great attitude.

Searls said volunteering was a natural thing for him after retiring from Town and County.

“I saw hundreds of people most every day,” he said. “Customers only wanted me to wait on them. I enjoyed that.

“I have the best job of the volunteers because I get to see everybody. Ninety-nine percent of the staff comes down for lunch.”

Searls said the hospital staff and volunteers are his family.

“I have made some awfully good friends here over the years,” he said. “I look forward to seeing them when I come in. I never met a staff member I did not like. Nicest people in the world. They are also good at what they do. I have had several outpatient procedures done. The gals that I wait on downstairs are taking care of me.”

Searls has volunteered at the hospital for four years and also volunteers at the Franklin County Visitors Center.

“This hospital does so much good for our community,” he said. “If I can help out, this is where I want to be. I have not talked to a volunteer that was not enthusiastic about their job. We are here because we want to be, not because we have to be.

“I plan to work here as long as I am physically able.”

Volunteer awards

Lancaster put together a drive-by award ceremony for the hospital volunteers Tuesday evening. An awards banquet is an annual event in April during Volunteer Week. This year’s ceremony was postponed because of COVID-19 concerns.

Lancaster came up with the idea of a drive-by ceremony where the volunteers received their 2019 awards in the comfort of their vehicles.

There were 134 volunteers who logged 16,280 hours in 2019.

Here the awards given out for 2019:

50 hours: Cheryl Cross, Amy Evans, Kim Evans, Sandy Musick, Amanda Paul, Linda Sink, Angie Spears Adams and Donna Zornes.

100 hours: Lilly Coultis, Anna May Doles, Judy Fabert, Joe Ferguson, Karen Geiger, Bruce Groninger, Connie Jacobs and Nancy Mast.

500 hours: Linda Dailey, Kris Peterson, Jeannie Reese and Roberta Rhodes.

1,000 hours: Grace Nilges and Fred Searls.

2,000 hours: Darlene Kibble, Jim Lancaster, Ann Maxwell, Audean Paul and Jean Stover.

3,000 hours: Carol Hiatt and Arla Lickteig.

4,000 hours: Peggy Kreiser and Mary Ellen Wood.

6,000 hours: Angeline Wootten.

9,000 hours: Ginny Lancaster.

20,000 hours: Ginny Bromert.

5 years: Lilly Coultis, Linda Neff, Patty Nelson, Doreen Newby and Roberta Rhodes.

10 years: Beverly Hughes, Ann Maxwell and Audean Paul.

25 years: Peggy Kreiser.

50 years: Louise Dietz.

Jody Lancaster, AdventHealth Ottawa director of volunteer services, handed out service awards Tuesday to the hospital auxiliary volunteers.