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Humans of Healthcare: Butch and Marilyn

10:56 PM · May 3, 2022

CHI Mercy Health has over 50 active volunteers who commit at least four hours a week to serve the people who come into the hospital for work, to visit, or as a patient. Butch and Marilyn Aller have been serving different roles in the hospital for about seven years. Butch is an Army veteran and he is one of two volunteers in the Veterans Visiting Veterans program. He comes in every Wednesday, picks up his folder of veterans in the hospital, gets a handful of pins, and takes off to do his rounds. “I look forward to it every week,” Butch said. “We usually talk about their service. I just sit down and encourage them to talk. I enjoy volunteering because the veterans who I visit almost unanimously are delighted to have someone come in, sit down, and ask about their service. I feel like I can make them feel better about things. I just enjoy letting people think about something other than they have tubes coming out of them. The family appreciates it too. I can give the family a break. I visit old and young, but mostly from Vietnam and before. The nurses are always happy to see me too. The program is a wonderful program. As a vet myself, I can see what the appeal is to have a vet visit.” Butch volunteered at another non-profit organization for a while, but it wasn’t a good fit for him, so he found a better fit. He suggested everyone find a place to volunteer that is a good fit for them and the organization. Marilyn started serving at Mercy when the volunteer coordinator asked if she would be interested in helping in the gift shop after her husband, Butch, had been volunteering for a little while. The gift shop sells a variety of items like newborn items, unique gifts, candy, boutique clothing, seasonal items, jewelry and artwork. The proceeds go back to the Mercy Foundation which is used to purchase items for the hospital so it truly stays within Mercy. “It’s such a fun job. All the proceeds from the gift shop go to the Mercy Foundation With COVID, the shop was closed for a period of time but now we are open to all again. Our best customers are the hospital staff. It’s a great place to come in and get little gifts or personal items. A lot of people come in if they’re waiting for their spouse in surgery or come in to browse and be in this beautiful little spot. It’s a happy place to be. People come in and shop and we visit. I enjoy it, that’s my routine. The gift shop does more than just sell. I think it’s also a really good therapy place. People can come down to take a break. It’s like its own little world. Every Monday afternoon, I sell a lot of Jelly Bellies, Butterfinger Bars – to staff members because everybody needs their mid-afternoon pick-me-up. They treat you so well at the hospital. It’s a pleasant place to volunteer and you’re totally appreciated.” Mercy volunteers help in several places including the information desks, Veterans Visiting Veterans, the emergency department, courtesy escort services, the gift shop, the Family BirthPlace, clerical assistance, and Hospice. Anyone 16 years and older can check the Mercy website for volunteer information and apply online to be a volunteer. *** Humans of Healthcare is a series of stories introducing people who work in the healthcare profession to the community at large, to see past "healthcare" as an institution and to see the humans at work inside.