Volunteer Spotlight: Nell Richmond
by Carol M. Karimi, September 2009
A little bit of happiness
Nell Richmond is typical of the over 500 CPMC Medical Center volunteers in that she is committed to providing care and consideration to patients and visitors every day. Nell has been volunteering at CPMC for many years, and for the past nine years has worked at the main information desk at Pacific Campus where she provides information to patients and visitors alike.
“People need a smile, a little bit of happiness. So that is my niche,” shares Nell.
One of Nell’s key responsibilities is to act as a conduit between family members and the doctors and nurses caring for a patient. Invaluable services that volunteers like Nell provide include consoling family members who are often preoccupied with the condition of their loved one.
“People are upset when they arrive,” explains Nell. “The Information Desk Volunteers know when patients go to ambulatory care or surgery. We stay connected with the family by giving them a pager so we can track family members and let them know where the patient is and how they are doing.”
Giving back through volunteering
Nell understands the importance of being acknowledged and kept up-to-date on what is going on from personal experience. “My husband was ill for quite a while. He was in several hospitals but the volunteers and people at CPMC were so wonderful and kind to me. The patient has a lot of trouble but the family needs a little bit of TLC too and the volunteers here certainly gave that to me. My volunteering is my payback.” When her husband, Dr. Gordon Richmond, passed away in August 2000, Nell began volunteering just six months later.
It's like a family
At 83 years of age, Nell is a dynamic and spirited individual and brings a wonderful warmth and kindness to her work. She claims the benefits of volunteering far outweigh the initial investment. “It’s like a family. I made a lot of friends and I have a purpose to get up and get out of the house.”
A widow herself, Nell advises fellow retirees to keep getting out there. “I live in a building with 10 widows who never get out. People need to get out. I’m limping and I am not doing very well but anybody who has any time should volunteer. You’ll get more out of it than you give.”
“My late husband left me with two pieces of advice. The first was, do not move. The second piece of advice was not to sell our vintage Thunderbirds. Keep ‘em going!” Nell follows both pieces of advice by volunteering at CPMC and by continuing to maintain two classic cars that she loves. She even attends car shows with fellow Thunderbird enthusiasts.