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Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System celebrates its volunteers during drive-thru event

Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System celebrates its volunteers during drive-thru event

Blue and green balloons and a variety of sweet treats were on display for Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System (SVMHS) volunteers. 

On Wednesday, volunteers drove past SVMHS executive team members and staff while the Service League Board handed out cookies, goodie bags and held handmade posters showing their appreciation to those volunteers.

To celebrate National Volunteer Week, SVMHS organized a volunteer appreciation drive-thru event outside of their hospital to honor the volunteers who help care for hospital patients before and during the pandemic.

Anne Pauly, a volunteer for 11 years, has logged over 70,000 hours at the hospital.

“I’ve learned over the years that it’s a good feeling to be able to help someone, regardless of whether they’re being discharged," she said. "You get to wheel them out in the chair to their car to go home, or if you go to the bedside and just talk with them.” 

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted hospital operations and caused volunteer hours to decrease significantly due to distancing regulations. Ranging in age from 16-90, many of the older volunteers are at risk of contracting the virus.

“Our volunteers are at the heart of our organization,” said Pete Delgado, Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System president/CEO. “We needed to take significant steps to keep them, our staff and patients safe this past year. However, we have missed our volunteers tremendously and can’t wait to bring them back safely into the many roles they serve.”  

“Our volunteers really add that extra dimension of care, that attention to the human touch when helping with the patient,” said Shannon Graham, Director of Volunteer Services. “Working with these volunteers reminds me of all the things that are good about our community. You have people who are just caring, kind, good, giving people who choose to give their time. We put them through training and screening and it’s not easy to show up and help.” 

The Volunteer Services Department supports health career education through programs such as Medical Adventure Camp and Summer Health Institute, as well as an ongoing partnership with local Regional Occupational Programs. 

Many of the services SVMHS provides would not be possible without the volunteers who dedicate their time to helping others, hospital officials stated in a press release.

According to SVMHS, amid the pandemic, volunteers have been able to safely continue to serve the community through programs such as Lifeline, offering 24-hour personal emergency response units in patient homes, and Telecare, a daily friendly visitor call. 

“It’s truly amazing how much commitment our volunteers showed during this past year,” Graham said. “From knitting baby hats to installing Lifeline units and making daily Telecare calls, to supporting patient services with efforts from home, volunteers have remained an integral part of our operations. National Volunteer Week is an opportunity to remind them how much they are needed and appreciated and we are so excited to begin welcoming them back to the hospital.” 

If you are interested in volunteering you can go to the SVMHS website or call the hospital’s direct number with any questions at (831) 755-0772, you can also email them at