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Articles / 2011

Pink Ladies Not Just Do-Good Grandmas

Ojai Valley News Blog
Thursday, September 8, 2011
By Chris T. Wilson

You may know of them as the Pink Ladies, Ojai Valley Community Hospital’s volunteer arm, but this isn’t just a do-good group for grandmas anymore.

In recent months an informal campaign is beginning to take shape that will help to coordinate, expand and fetch more men and young people into this local volunteer opportunity.

One of the women who has been inspired by the program, got involved and now wants to help it grow is Leticia Flores. When her husband spent some time rehabilitating in the Continuing Care Center, she saw a need and responded to it. Because there was always a lot of activity from family members visiting with Flores, she became aware that there were others in Continuing Care who weren’t being visited by anyone and were quite alone.

“I would be in the hallway and people in wheelchairs would come by and look at me and I would smile at them,” Flores said. “I told my husband, ‘When you get well, I’m not going to forget about this place.”

And she hasn’t forgotten. Flores has recently accepted the role of president of the auxiliary at OVCH, although she more humbly refers to herself as a membership coordinator. Her goals now are simple and straightforward: to get more people to be of help to their community by volunteering at the hospital.

“When I started, I read to people,” Flores said. “I would read from the Bible or whatever they wanted. Sometimes I would just talk with them. I asked, ‘Who doesn’t ever get any visitors?’ and that’s who I would go talk to.”

Giving all the attention a patient needs sometimes goes beyond what doctors and nurses can provide. Auxiliary volunteers offer smiles and a helping hand where needed.

Outgoing President John Mason said there’s a real need for more people to get involved.

“We experienced a very big loss of volunteers recently, most of it through people passing away,” Mason said. “Right now we do not have enough volunteers to do all the services well. We have enough to get by, but we need all of our services covered and we are expanding our services.”

Current duties for an auxiliary volunteer could be as simple as visiting with patients in the hospital or Continuing Care Center, delivering flowers to a bedside, bringing magazines and books, and keeping medical supplies stocked and organized. Other duties include basic tidying of rooms, Mason said. Further, auxiliary volunteers run the hospital gift shop and the program is expanding to include a non-narcotic prescription drug runner service from the pharmacy to the Continuing Care Center.

While this has traditionally been the volunteer opportunity for women wearing pink jackets, both Flores and Mason are quick to note that the auxiliary is an equal opportunity organization. Several high school-aged students are involved and a few men have been a part of the auxiliary for years.

Currently though, while the Ventura branch of the auxiliary has about 200 volunteers, there’s just over a dozen now who help out in Ojai. Mason said he’s involved in large part because he wants to know that the hospital is going to be there for him if and when he needs it.

“It’s a very rewarding volunteer experience,” Mason said. “It’s one where you come away from your shift feeling good about accomplishing something. Because a lot of the volunteers, when they deliver meals, deliver more when they talk with patients, answer questions, break up hospital stays and make it a little easier — all sorts of amenities we try to furnish.”

New members require a background check and there are some basic qualifications to work in the hospital. If you are interested in joining or would like more information, call 646-1401, Ext. 224.