LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 30, 2012) —You’ll find them in the hospital every Wednesday, lending support to patients and visitors in any way they can. Together, Mel and Janice Boyd have served more than 10,000 volunteer hours at University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital —hours they say they would not trade for anything.
“Volunteering helps us forget our problems,” Janice said. “We always leave feeling better than when we went.”
Mel and Janice met at Transylvania University in 1954 and married before their senior year in college. In September, they will celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary. Throughout their marriage, the couple has made a conscious effort to give back to the community, to serve those in need and help wherever they can.
Janice began volunteering with her neighbor
Nearly 30 years ago, Janice Boyd’s next-door-neighbor and friend asked her to go to UK Hospital and sign up to be volunteers.
“It was a friendship thing,” Janice said. “And it was a good fit for me.”
They started volunteering together, and while the neighbor is no longer volunteering, Janice has since enjoyed numerous hours working in the hospital’s two gift shops.
She takes pride in designing the windows displays in the hospital gift shops, but her work is far more than just changing the displays and working the cash register.
People often come to the gift shop to escape what is going on with what brought them to the hospital, she said. It’s an opportunity just to get away and to see a different face and she tries to recognize when visitors need an extra smile, comforting words or just a listening ear.
“Every day you go away hoping you made their day brighter,” Janice said. “And you leave realizing how lucky you are.”
In addition to working in the hospital gift shops, Janice serves as president of the Hospital Auxiliary Board.
“Janice is much more than a volunteer at UK Chandler Hospital,” said Bonnie Thornton, director of volunteer services for UK HealthCare. “Janice is part of the family. It is incredible to see someone as passionate about volunteering as Janice. She exemplifies what it means to give back to your community.”
For Janice, the reason she has spent so many years volunteering — and the reason she plans to continue to volunteer as long as she can — is simple.
“It’s amazing how much better you feel when you volunteer,” Janice said. “It makes you feel good.”
Mel Boyd has always made time for volunteering
For 15 years, Mel volunteered at Harrison Elementary School. He also has delivered meals for Meals On Wheels for more than 20 years and works the mission desk at his church every Thursday. And for the past 40 years, Mel has been the official men’s basketball scorekeeper for Transylvania University.
However, in 2006, Mel’s life changed drastically. He learned that he had contracted Hepatitis C from a blood transfusion dozens of years earlier and learned that his liver was failing, and that he would need a liver transplant to survive.
“It was quite an experience,” he said.
In October of 2006, Mel received a new liver and a second chance at life.
A weakened immune system makes it difficult for Mel to continue volunteering with young children, so in 2011, he joined Janice as a volunteer at UK Chandler Hospital.
“They saved my life,” Mel said of the UK HealthCare transplant team. “I wanted to give something back.”
So, at least one day per week, Mel works in the hospital’s surgery waiting room, escorting families to see their loved ones and helping make their time at the hospital as pleasant as possible.
“I’m so grateful to be here, and to be able to help others,” Mel said.
“Mel is nothing short of amazing,” Thornton said. “Having someone in our surgery waiting room who has such a success story of their own — that means a lot to patient families. We are so lucky to have Mel as a volunteer.”
Janice said she believes anyone who volunteers will find the experience to be rewarding.
“Everybody can volunteer — you don’t have to have a special talent,” Janice said. “There’s a place for everyone at UK.”
For more information on volunteering at UK Chandler Hospital or UK Good Samaritan Hospital, call Volunteer Services at 1-859-323-6023.