Volunteering at CMH

Terri GibsonA Q&A with Terri Gibson, CMH Auxiliary President

In honor of National Volunteer Week, April 7-13, 2019, catch up with Terri Gibson, longtime volunteer and president of the CMH Auxiliary. 

Are you a native Astorian? If not, what brought you here, and how long have you been here?
I’m native to Portland. My husband and I moved out here in 1995, and we semi-retired for a few years, and then I went to work at CMH. I worked in the lab as a Med Lab Tech, mainly doing phlebotomy and lab testing. I did that for almost 10 years. I was used to much more activity. In retirement, it’s fun not doing anything, but that only lasts for a while. 

How did you get started volunteering at CMH?
I always talked to the volunteers as I was making rounds doing things, and I always thought it would be fun. As soon as I retired, I took a couple of months off, and then I talked to the volunteer coordinator about volunteering.

Why do you volunteer at CMH?
CMH is like a big family. I knew everybody, and I missed the routine and missed my friends. Volunteering two days a week was just fine for me. It’s perfect.

How long have you been a volunteer here?
I started volunteering at the beginning of 2014, so about five years.

How did you become Auxiliary president, and how long have you done that?
This is my second year as Auxiliary president. The past president had done it for three years, and it was time for her to be done. I said I’d do it for a year, and now it’s been two years. Things have changed, and we’ve made it a more formal organization, where we pay dues every January. We’re more accountable and more of a body. I plan on volunteering as long as I can, but I’m not sure how long I want to be president. Two to three years is enough for anybody, and other people need to take the opportunity, too.

What are some of the things you do as a volunteer and as the Auxiliary president?
We have four board meetings and four Auxiliary meetings a year. The board meets one week before the Auxiliary meeting to discuss topics for the general meeting and to vote on things. Everybody has a say. As a volunteer, I work in the East Lobby and with the Same Day Surgery crew. I help the families who are usually left waiting in the waiting room. I try to make them as comfortable as possible. I help by answering questions, getting them coffee, pillows, blankets and whatever else they need, and answering the phone. I help Dixie Christman, who works in Admitting, do paperwork and run errands. I could also fill in for the West Lobby if I had to.

What do you think are some of the benefits of volunteering?
It’s really needed. The hospital really appreciates us doing what we do. Oftentimes, we’re the first people that outside people see. It’s important that we’re friendly, willing to listen and able to take them where they need to go. It’s a really good challenge for each volunteer to work with the public. I love CMH, and we’re representing the hospital, so we project those feelings so other people feel that, too.

How would you describe volunteering at CMH?
It’s fulfilling and satisfying. It follows the old adage that if you do things for other people, it makes you feel better, too.

How could someone get started as a volunteer at CMH?
They would need to talk to our volunteer coordinator, Megan Hutchinson. She would tell them what’s needed, what’s involved and what choices they have. They’d do a short interview with her, and we have an orientation that everybody goes through. Contact Megan at mhutchinson@columbiamemorial.org or 503-338-7527.

Is there anything else you want to share about volunteering at CMH?
I really like being there. I’d been away for a little while, and I missed it. I was anxious to come back.