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Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital celebrates their volunteers as they plan to phase them back

Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital celebrates their volunteers as they plan to phase them back

SALINAS, Calif. — It is national volunteer week and Salinas Valley Memorial hospital wanted to show their appreciation to their volunteers with a drive-thru event.

The hospital celebrated them with goodie bags when they drove up. They are filled with lots of items, such as masks, notebooks, a deck of cards. Also, something they are also celebrating is phasing in their volunteers after being sidelined because of the pandemic. At the event, those volunteers were happy just to be driving up for some praise.

"Makes you feel special," said Debra Tack who's been a volunteer at SVMH since 2011.

"We are going to have volunteers on board back, I'm really eager to be here," said Pat Walworth, a 17-year volunteer at SVMH.

SVMH held a drive-thru event for dozens of long-time volunteers at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital. The hospital is handing out plenty of thanks to their volunteers as they drove up to receive their gift bags.

"Our volunteers are part of the history of the hospital. We are standing right in front of a fountain we put up to commemorate their 50th anniversary. They started in 1952. They have made such a big commitment to our hospital... over two and a half million hours of service," said Shannon Graham, the volunteer and health career services director at SVMH.

Before the pandemic, SVMH averaged 300 volunteers per year. A small group of them continued doing telecare services or knitting hats for newborns. But all of them have not been allowed inside yet.

"Our staff has been terrific and filling some of that personal touch that our volunteers aren't here to fill, but it's just not the same without our volunteers here," Graham said.

Volunteers feel the same and are thankful for the special shoutout.

"They've always been so good about appreciation," Walworth said.

"It just feels good, as we retire it's good to do something," said Veronica Polovneff, a SVMH volunteer since 1975.

Right now SVMH has some volunteers working in the office and the front desk. Services like the Mended Heart program and the dog therapy, have not been cleared for volunteers yet because of the high risk.