Forty years go by fast. At least they do for Anne Goodfellow. Tuesday marked two decades that the 87-year-old Kent resident has volunteered at Valley Medical Center.
“It was kind of a shock,” Goodfellow says of her anniversary, which earned her a plaque and a bouquet of flowers at a recent Valley Medical party. “I knew it had been a long time, but I didn’t realize the years.”
Valley Medical Center has more than 270 volunteers. None of those volunteers have logged as many hours as Goodfellow. She has nearly 12,000 — each 500 illustrated by a small gold bar swinging from a pin fastened to her Valley Medical Center blouse.
The slight, soft-spoken Goodfellow has spent nearly all of those hours behind the Renton hospital’s information desk.
She sits behind that long desk from 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. every Monday. From her chair she assists Valley Medical visitors, both on the phone and in person.
On the phone, visitors ask for directions to the Talbot Hill hospital. In person, visitors ask where on the 35-acre campus they can find their doctor or sister or husband. Goodfellow points the way, or a volunteer escort guides the visitors.
On a recent morning Goodfellow was trying to help visitors find a Dr. Lee. One of about 10 Dr. Lees at the hospital. She thinks she found the right one.
“I think we sent them to the right place... at least, they didn’t come back,” Goodfellow says.“People don’t realize how much work it is,” she adds of her job.
But Goodfellow loves the work.
The daughter of an Enumclaw dairy farmer, Goodfellow started volunteering at Valley Medical Center as a member of the hospital’s guild.
She didn’t like staying home while her husband and daughter went to work, but her husband didn’t want her working. A friend recommended she join the guild.
“It was an out,” Goodfellow says.
She then moved onto the hospital’s gift cart for a year.
That was before the information desk existed. When it was created, Goodfellow was asked to sit behind it.
That first information desk was at Renton Hospital on Rainier Avenue, forerunner to Valley Medical and now the location of McLendon Hardware.
It was less than a year that Goodfellow worked in the middle of that hospital’s lobby, but she remembers the former downtown Renton building.
“It was one floor and the shape of a wagon wheel. A lot of people called it a wagon wheel,” she recalls.
The first information desk didn’t have phones, and certainly no computers.
Built in the 1940s, Renton Hospital had only 100 beds.
Times have changed. Goodfellow and her fellow volunteers each have their own phone and computer. Valley Medical Center now has more than 300 beds. Many more beds will go in when the 200,000-square-foot Emergency Services Tower and Level III Trauma Center is completed later this year.
Goodfellow has enjoyed watching the tower go up, even if its completion will require her to master a new set of directions.
That task shouldn’t be hard for Goodfellow.
She’s special, says Royanne Weber. A role model, and an “exemplary volunteer.”
Weber is supervisor of Valley Medical’s Volunteer Services Department. She’s had the job 21 years.
Goodfellow planned to end her role model days when her family took away her car keys about two years ago. But her daughter offered to drop her at the hospital each week.
Goodfellow’s family doesn’t want her to stop volunteering. Neither does anybody else.
“I’ve mentioned the fact that it’s time for me to retire, but everybody says I can’t retire, so I’m still here,” Goodfellow says.
She’s also still at Valley Medical Center because she’d miss the work if she left. She likes getting out of the house, helping people and feeling needed.
“... I think that’s the important thing, that you’re needed,” she says.
HOW TO VOLUNTEER
To volunteer at Valley Medical Center, call 425-228-3440.
Photo caption: At right, Valley Medical Center volunteer Anne Goodfellow tells Debbie Smart of Renton how to find her sister, who had day surgery. Goodfellow has volunteered at Valley Medical for 40 years.
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