Auxiliary Volunteers Share a Century of Service at NPMC

Volunteers’ Dedication Sets Example of How to Use Lives to Give Back

National Park Medical Center (NPMC) boasts a well-tenured medical staff, some having worked with the hospital since the current facility first opened in the mid-1980s, or even longer. The same can be said for NPMC’s auxiliary volunteers.

For decades, quality, compassionate care provided to patients continues to positively impact the community, and it all starts and ends with the volunteers.

“All of our volunteers are such a blessing to our patients, our employees and our entire hospital,” said Mandy Golleher, Director of Marketing and Volunteer Services. “They are the face of the hospital – a smile when you’re going through a difficult time and a helping hand right when you need one.”

Of the 44 auxiliary members, Dona McKewen, Julia Winningham and Lou English have a combined tenure of 99 years, nearly a century of service devoted to NPMC.

McKewen started out as a volunteer downtown at the original Ouachita Hospital in the Intensive Care Unit.  Thirty-four years later, she now volunteers in the gift shop at NPMC, greeting patients and families.  

“Dona can remember what was our best selling item under each former manager and president,” said Dorothy Stringer, NPMC Auxiliary President. “She can remember things from way back years ago.”

When she is not at NPMC, McKewen can be found working in one of the teller windows at Hot Springs’ own Oaklawn Park during the live race meet each year. She has worked there for 43 years.

For 33 years, Winningham has volunteered having first become interested in the program when Ouachita Hospital became NPMC and moved to its current location. She can be found escorting patients and greeting visitors at the information desk on Tuesday afternoons and Thursday mornings.

“Julia is one of the most loyal people you will ever meet,” Stringer said. “She comes in on her days off, she comes in early and stays late. And when we have a new volunteer, she always offers to come in and train them. She’s always good about buddying with our new volunteers.”

English is celebrating 32 years of service this month, having become a volunteer in October of 1985.  She has been a Thursday morning volunteer since the beginning and now helps with fundraisers and subs.

“I can always count on Lou to be here whenever I need her,” Stringer said.

English began when National Park Medical Center was known as AMI, and had just been moved to its current location on September 21 of that year.  English has made Christmas and New Year’s stockings for the auxiliary for the last 14 years.  

“She loves making our Christmas stockings and the New Year’s baby stockings,” Stringer added. “Everybody who meets Lou loves her, and she is one of the funniest women you’ll ever meet. She’s up for anything.”

It takes a caring heart and a cheerful attitude to serve as a hospital volunteer, and these ladies’ near century of service is a testament to that.

“These three incredible Auxilians are such special human beings,” Golleher said. “They set the tone for our program, and show us all how to use our lives to give back to others.”

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