Anne Pauly once asked a patient if he was happy with his coffee. He said he typically only sweetened his coffee with honey, not sugar, so she scavenged the entire hospital for honey, and personally delivered it to him.
Honey-fetcher isn’t her only role at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, where she is president of the Service League of Volunteers, and where her compassion – and attention to detail – makes tough hospital stays more pleasant.
“I can’t be there day and night as much as I would like,” Pauly says. “I like being around people and doing anything I can to make life easier.”
Pauly coordinates the No One Dies Alone program, where she and other volunteers spend time with patients in their last hours who have no known family. She also leads tours for second – and third-graders of the hospital’s medical museum, the civil war medicine kit and iron lung.
“She has an impact on our youngest to our oldest,” hospital spokesperson Karina Rusk says. “It shows her connection to people regardless of their circumstance.”
Pauly retired from a career in agricultural food safety in 2008, and within a month, she was ready for something different. Now, seven and a half years – and 5,213 volunteer hours and counting – later, Pauly continues to find motivation through helping others. “When you are working, you have a drive and you have to get certain things done all the time,” she says. “You have a purpose of why you get up every day.”
Most days, she finds that purpose in the small but significant details that make someone’s day a little easier – like a cup of coffee made just right.