June Wilson, a volunteer at Sonora Regional Medical Center, in Sonora, California, was recently awarded the “2016 Senior Volunteer Extraordinaire” award by Sonora’s Area 12 Agency on Aging. “It’s just an award,” she says. But June’s volunteering history has more of an impact than she leads anyone to believe.
Traditionally, volunteering is not the type of pastime that provides a great deal of recognition. Adventist Health is blessed to have a small army of more than 4,200 volunteers who help fulfill the mission of the organization by doing everything from advocating for patients to knitting hats for newborns.
June began serving as a volunteer at Sonora Regional Medical Center in 1990 after moving to Sonora from Africa, where she served as a nursing missionary for 38 years. Her first taste of volunteering began with a mission trip to the Dominican Republic with the organization Maranatha Volunteers International. This sparked a deep love for giving back and inspired her to go on three other mission trips to Peru, the Philippines and the Kingdom of Tonga.
When she started at Sonora Regional Medical Center, June served in the gift shop selling a wide array of items to staff, patients and their families. “Naturally as a Seventh-day Adventist with a health care background, the hospital drew me to be a place where I wanted to give back,” says June. Shortly thereafter, she took over and revolutionized Baby Track, a health department program that sends reminders to mothers of newborns regarding vaccinations and checkups. Her expertise and leadership was later put on full display as she served for two years as the president of the volunteers at the hospital.
Today, June still volunteers with the hospital by assisting with Baby Track and playing the piano in the hospital cafeteria. She also mends clothing at the Sonora location of Dorcas International, plays the organ for her church, and helps with a local class that provides information and help to those suffering from depression.
“Doing something that you’re not paid for gives you greater satisfaction than working for money,” says June. “To sit at home and watch TV and be on the computer gets old really fast. Volunteering lets you associate with all kinds of new people and expand your friends. It helps to keep you younger too!”
And she’s not wrong—research has shown that volunteering can not only benefit your community, but can also boost your moods, increase happiness, and even help you live longer. And helping others gives you a great sense of purpose, belonging, and gratification in knowing you’re living God’s love by providing hope.
How much longer does June plan on volunteering? “As long as June is able and can walk, she will do whatever it takes to volunteer,” says Judy Roth, June’s friend and neighbor. “She hasn’t slowed down and will walk or take the bus if she needs to. If she can stay active, her volunteer days are way out there.”
June simply wants to make sure the credit goes to the right person. “I praise God for all the health He’s given me to be able to do all of the things I have done,” she says. “People say, ‘You work all that time for nothing?’ No, God has supplied all my needs. The least I can do is give a little back.”