For almost three decades, a group of volunteers - the Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Auxiliary - has been working to add comfort to your medical emergencies and hospital stays.

The hospital auxiliary was formed in July, 1982 when a steering committee was formed for what was then known as Stephenville General Hospital. Less than two months later, on Sep. 7, 1982, the auxiliary was officially formed when officers were elected at an organizational meeting. According to the auxiliary's history, in less than seven months, it tallied 75 members.

The first president to serve at the helm of the organization was Flo Trogdon, wife of Dr. W.O. "Bill" Trogdon, Tarleton State University's 12th president. She held the post from 1982-1985.

Today's Volunteer Corp

You may recall seeing the volunteers, who previously dressed in pink - commonly referred to as "pink ladies" - but the team of 54 women and one man can now been seen hustling and bustling across Texas Heath Harris Methodist Hospital Stephenville in green smocks, donning a smile and offering a helping hand.

According to Mike Hannah, director of volunteers, 2010 statistics show that the 55 volunteers tallied 14,000 hours. Those hours were logged across the hospital - at the information desk and popcorn cart inside the Belknap Lobby, nursing stations, gift shop, at the day surgery center, in the OB area and at other locations.

According to Julie Swink, Texas Health marketing executive, an online service at www.texashealth.org allows friends and family members to send emails directly to patients by simply entering their name and the hospital in which they are receiving care, and the volunteers deliver the messages directly to patients.

On the Job

Making your way across the hospital on any given Thursday, you will cross paths with a number of volunteers, including Meldeene Elliott, who was on board when the auxiliary was formed, and has earned a service badge with almost 20 golden bars - one for of each year of service. She took a break for about 10 years, to assist in the operation of a family business.

Elliott volunteers in admissions and said she loves the job because it keeps her busy. The job entails providing the non-profit hospital with extra personnel, and according to Elliott, admissions is a bustling area that is badly in need of extra help.

"We are sometimes so busy it is unbelievable," she said.

Elliot said her efforts provide additional staff without added cost, and also provide a service to patients who enter the facility by pulling files, assisting with paperwork and registering them as patients for general and emergency care.

According to Julie Swink, Texas Health marketing executive, an online service at www.texashealth.org allows friends and family members to send emails directly to patients by simply entering their name and the hospital in which they are receiving care, and the volunteers deliver the messages directly to their rooms.

While they are ready and willing, they still need help, according to Hannah.

For more information on joining the auxiliary, contact Hannah at 965-1500 ext. 185.

Raising Funds

Hannah said auxiliary members are much more than just volunteers.

"They are here to support the hospital," he said, pointing to fund raising efforts and the auxiliary-driven gift shop.

Proceeds gained from those efforts can be seen across the hospital - renovations to waiting areas and equipment additions.

"They support hospital operations while focusing on the patient experience," Hannah said. "A major priority for the volunteers is making the experience more comfortable for their friends and neighbors."

To accomplish that mission, the auxiliary hosts fund raising events, including a book and gift sale that is held in the fall and spring, the next sale is just weeks away. The biannual "Books are Fun" book and gift sale will be held from 7 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 5 in the hospital's Belknap Street Lobby.

For more information on the fundraising event, contact Projects Co-Chair Sue Batte at 968-8793.