In 1944, the Anne Arundel Medical Center (AAMC) Auxiliary was founded as a way for community members to integrate with the hospital and give back. Originally referred to as the “Pink Ladies,” over time, the group of volunteers became known as the “Blue Crew” and evolved into an integral part of the organization’s mission of providing patient-centered, high-quality health care services to the community it serves every day.
“Volunteers dedicate an incredible amount of hours in any given month, equating about 58 full-time staff members that the hospital would need to hire,” said Ann Brundige, Auxiliary president. “The best part about being an auxilian is the ‘family’ spirit.”
This year, 2019, marks 75 years of service for the AAMC Auxiliary. There are now 500 volunteers who serve over 30 service lines on AAMC’s main campus and off-campus locations around the community.
Among those volunteers, you’ll come across auxilians like June Caudill and Rita Kapurch.
READ MORE: Donating to AAMC: A how-to guide
In August 1996, June joined a volunteer program that formed through a partnership between the American Cancer Society and AAMC. Being surrounded by other volunteers and having the opportunity to work directly with patients made her feel like she had discovered her calling in life. “I quickly became attached to the environment,” she says. “Working with the other volunteers felt like having a second family. I was warmly welcomed by AAMC staff, and it was that warm approach that was an integral part of immediately feeling part of the hospital.”
A year later, June started supporting Oncology and working with cancer patients. She often came across patients who were undergoing difficult situations, and although at times it was hard for her, she learned how to appreciate how gracious many of them were considering what they were going through.
“When I first started as a volunteer, I thought it was about seeing the patients in the bed and taking care of them,” June says. But, she learned that working in health care can be both rewarding and challenging. “It was such a different feeling and I have asked myself, ‘are you sure you’re doing the right thing?’ And then I stopped and thought, ‘if not me, then who?’ So I kept pushing right through it because I loved being with patients.”
Making lifelong friends
Rita, who began as a volunteer in the gift shop, had a similar experience when she started her journey as an auxilian 31 years ago.
“I read somewhere that volunteers live longer,” she laughs, adding that she started volunteering in her home state of Massachusetts. “When we moved to Maryland, I told my husband I wanted to be a volunteer at AAMC, which was also good for me personally because I didn’t know anyone.”
Rita says she had the opportunity to meet the most amazing volunteers and patients while working at AAMC. Her favorite part? Meeting new grandparents. “I love seeing grandparents come in and buy the big teddy bears,” she says. “Especially when they’re first-time grandparents, I get to share the joy and special moment with them.”
Rita’s favorite day of the week is Tuesday, when she volunteers at AAMC’s gift shop. “I always look forward to seeing the other volunteers, whom I proudly call my friends,” she says. “I love people and I couldn’t be more grateful for volunteering.”