Sister Act: Volunteering is in the blood for three Knott County sisters
Growing up in Nowhere, Kentucky in a family of 18 kids, hard work and service to others was the way of life for the “Meade Bunch”. That is why it is not unusual that three of the Meade sisters; Ogie Slone, Louise King, and Debra Slone, now find themselves volunteering at three different hospital locations for Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH).
“Our parents taught us to give back and appreciate what you have, even if it wasn’t much,” noted Debra Slone, the newest ARH volunteer among the sisters.
Ogie Slone was the first sister to start volunteering at ARH around 2010. She had recently retired from being a special education teacher and administrator and missed the interaction with people. So she started volunteering at McDowell ARH Hospital in the gift shop. Today, her favorite part of volunteering is being able to serve as a listening ear to those that visit her in the gift shop. She regularly invites the visitors to pull up a chair while she is working and before long she knows their whole life story. On occasion some visitors have been known to stay over two hours sharing their problems and catching up on the latest news. She also especially remembers serving as a compassionate listener when a visitor stopped in the gift shop following a visit to the clinic where she had just received a diagnosis of breast cancer.
“I hope I have made a difference in people’s lives through my service,” noted Ogie. “They have certainly made a difference in my life.”
Sister Louise King started volunteering at Whitesburg ARH Hospital a couple of years later. A retired nurse, Louise was looking for a way to keep herself busy following the death of her husband. Louise works at the information desk at Whitesburg ARH and directs patients and visitors where they need to go. A people person, Louise hopes that she is able to brighten someone’s day due to her service. Louise and her sisters know all too well what it is like being on the other side in the hospital either as patients themselves or as concerned family members, having lost several of their siblings to cancer and other illnesses.
“I am just trying to give back to my community, to repay a little of what has been given to me,” noted Louise.
Debra just retired from teaching elementary school in May, but is already looking for ways to keep herself busy and decided to follow in her sisters’ footsteps and volunteer at the hospital. Debra is volunteering at Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center and has been serving at the information desk in the surgery waiting area and also filling in wherever needed. Debra is not surprised that the three sisters are all volunteering, since their parents instilled in all of them the importance of giving back.
For the Meade sisters, volunteering comes naturally and ARH is not the only benefactor of their services, since they also volunteer their time and talents with other organizations and churches. With a strong family bond, it is evident that volunteering also ties these three sisters together.