My name is Janet Amundson. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, reading, traveling, spending time outdoors and visiting with family. I also enjoy volunteering once a week in the Critical Care Unit (CCU) in Eau Claire. While volunteering, I interact with visitors, restock linens and beverage supplies, keep waiting rooms clean and make coffee.
I first decided to become a volunteer after having several back surgeries, including a spinal fusion, in the 1990s. This experience inspired me to volunteer with spinal fusion patients in the Neurology Department. After taking a few years off due to family commitments, I discovered that the Critical Care Unit was in need of volunteers. I decided the time was right to come back and volunteer.
One of the best parts of volunteering is helping families who are navigating through stressful situations. I try to make visitors feel more comfortable by offering helpful information, including restaurant or hotel suggestions. Other times, I direct families to social workers or chaplains for help with difficult decisions.
Families may feel vulnerable when they have a loved one in the CCU. I can be the eyes and ears in the waiting area to help people connect with these resources. Sometimes, visitors just need a person who cares and listens. I can be that person.
I believe growing up on a farm in Iowa has given me useful skills to use when volunteering. I can identify with guests from small farm communities. I feel this gives me credibility with families from outside the immediate Eau Claire area.
This year will be my 10th year of volunteering in the CCU. Throughout the years, I have enjoyed developing relationships with families in the CCU. As a grandmother of four, I enjoy assisting parents in the waiting area by providing crayons, coloring books, toys and puzzles for their children.
I encourage all who are interested in volunteering to give it a try. With multiple types of volunteering available, there is an opportunity to fit each person’s individual interests. For me, the greatest perk of volunteering is the satisfaction I get from being able to help brighten someone’s day. I have enjoyed developing great friendships with my fellow volunteers over the years, as well.
Like Janet, you, too, can volunteer at Mayo Clinic Health System. You must be at least 14 years old to volunteer. All ability levels are welcome.