UNC Health Care Volunteer Association

Compassion for patients and caregivers

Volunteer Association Treasurer Sue Mattern, UNC Health Care Directorof Volunteer Services Linda Bowles and Volunteer Association FinanceChair Wanda Wooten.

For 60 years the UNC Health Care Volunteer Association has been an impressive force enhancing the patient experience throughout medical campus. What began as a small women’s auxiliary has evolved into a cadre of 2,200 volunteers (335 in the cancer hospital alone) providing over 100,000 hours of service a year!

Perhaps best known for their famous Sock Monkeys — adorable stuffed animals lovingly hand crafted by members to give comfort to pediatric patients, the group is credited with starting an array of amazing programs. Among these are Clothing Closet, Health Career Symposium, Pet Therapy, Compassionate Friends, Tea Service and BMT Buddy Program.

Revenues generated from the much loved hospital gift shops and events make it possible for the Association to fund important projects that directly benefit patients and their caregivers.

It was through this funding program the Association determined to support critical needs on the inpatient unit of the N.C. Cancer Hospital, and most notably meals for caregivers of cancer patients. The meal program has been hugely popular with families who find the meals to be an invaluable opportunity for social interaction, lending mutual support for similar caregiver challenges.

Wanda Wooten, Finance Chair of the Volunteer Association, stated “we are so pleased to make the journey easier for patients and their families — this program perfectly aligns with our mission. Several of us on the board are cancer survivors so we can relate to what these families are facing. Our intent is to continue to support this program in future years. We are excited to also fund a massage therapist.”

Crista Creedle, Nurse Manager of the inpatient unit, sums up the importance of the Association’s support: “I am deeply touched by the generosity of this group. They saw a need, rolled up their sleeves and resolved to take care of it. When I see the joy in faces of family members who benefit from the meals, I am reminded how lucky I am to work in a place that has such incredibly dedicated volunteers.”