Aurora Lakeland Medical Center volunteer celebrates 50 years of service

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Andrea Anderson
Sunday, March 30, 2014

ELKHORN—For 50 years Shirley Haase has roamed the hallways of Aurora Lakeland Medical Center as a devoted volunteer.

She began volunteering in March of 1964 when a few of her friends who volunteered invited her along.

Haase, now 85, thought it would be a great way to get out of the house.

She started her volunteer career at the visitor's desk at the old entrance of the hospital on County NN.

At that time only two visitors were allowed to visit a patient at a time. No children were allowed in the rooms.

“Once in a while we ended up babysitting down there,” Haase said with a chuckle.

At first she volunteered once a month or once every other month. Now she has a standing date with the hospital for three hours every Thursday.

In her various roles as a volunteer, Haase has kept an eye on the gift shop and pushed a gift cart.

The cart had candy, writing supplies, and other items patients may have needed. 

Haase recalled a time she was pushing the cart and a patient asked for candy.

“He tried to con me into that and I wouldn't let him. I said nah-ah you can't do that,” Haase said.

Volunteers would have to check with a nurse before giving candy to a patient. Sure enough, this patient wasn't allowed to have any.

On Thursdays Haase can be seen working the front desk or escorting patients and visitors around the hospital.

Her favorite moments are when people say they are grateful for the work the volunteers do.

“A lot of the patients we bring down from same-day surgery are in very much pain and we try to visit with them, if they want to visit.” Haase said. “If they don't, we just sit with them until their ride comes. I think that's the most important thing – (to) just console the patients when they're not feeling well.”

During her 50 years at the hospital, Haase was a member of the hospital's scholarship committee. The scholarships are awarded to students pursuing a medical career.

Haase prefers working with patients over committees, she said, and plans on doing so for as long as she is able.

“I'm going to stay working until I can't push the wheelchairs anymore, if that's at all possible, hopefully I can do that,” Haase said.

She also volunteers at the Lake Geneva Red Cross Blood Bank, is a member of the Garden Club in Genoa City where she lives, and sings in the choir at her church.

“It's good for people to get busy and when you sit down you don't accomplish anything and a lot of people sit down when they retire and you know what happens? They don't last very long,” Haase said.

At the hospital on March 18 family, friends, fellow volunteers and employees recognized Haase for her volunteer work with a party.

Gail Wolf, another volunteer, described Haase as "amazing."

“It's unusual that someone would be well enough to do it for that long,” Wolf said. “Usually you either get ill or just become too old.”

Haase said her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren attended the party and gave her 50 roses.

“It was very heartwarming and I was floating on air,” Haase said. “I was very grateful and I hope I can still do this, and I hope I can live up to that honor because I thoroughly enjoy it.”

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