Westsiders honored for volunteering

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When Jean Purdy and her husband retired, they would go out to lunch and other places. Often they wouldn’t get home until after dark. Soon, their children began to worry.

Their oldest son encouraged them to do something with their lives. Since they lived near Doctor’s Hospital, they picked up application forms to do some volunteering.

That was nearly 22 years ago. The couple started volunteering one day a week for an eight-hour day. Not long after they began, they were asked to shift their day to another one, but instead of moving to a different day of the week, they just added second one.

“My husband lasted a year there before he got sick, but I kept on going,” Jean recalled.

Eventually Jean, now widowed, increased her hours and was volunteering as many as 8 to 10 hours a day, five days a week.

She’s done many tasks over the years, working in just about every department. She is currently assigned to women’s health and obstetrics, putting charts together.

In recent years, she has cut back to about half that time. When she isn’t doing volunteer service at the hospital, she’s crocheting hats for the newborns.

Reducing her volunteer hours also means she has time to play cards with some lady friends on Friday afternoons.

“The other ladies don’t do anything,” she said. “They say, ‘Why do you put in all your time at the hospital?’ What would I do? Sit in front of the TV all day? I’m not one to sit around and twiddle my thumbs.

“Besides, it gives me something to climb out of bed for in the mornings,” she said of her lengthy time of volunteering.

Not long after Jean started her volunteering, another Westside resident felt the need to do something meaningful with his life.

Harlan Jones Jr. had lost his wife and felt he “couldn’t sit around looking at four walls.”

While he was donating blood, the Red Cross workers kept asking him to consider volunteering. He said he had heard their pleas for so long, he decided to give it a try.

“I figured I wouldn’t put in much time,” he said.

One of the first things he did was post hours the volunteers put in, and do it on the computer.

“That’s something I said I would never do,” said Jones, who was working in the billing department at Columbus and Southern Ohio Electric and was a lead computer operator when he retired.

He does that, and also works with blood donation, doing such tasks as sending out reminder cards to donors in the 27 counties that the Central Ohio office serves, and registering the donors.

“I feel like I’m doing something that helps the community and they don’t have to hire someone,” he said of his 19 years as a volunteer.

Jones found that he was putting in up to 65 hours a week, often as many as 12 hours a day. But it was just too much, so he has cut back a little.

“It’s rewarding,” he said, pointing to the mantel when he displays the numerous awards he has received – awards for volunteer of the year, for putting in the most hours in a year.

He has added another one – this one from RSVP which recognized him and Purdy on Oct. 3 for their dedicated service.

Each has put in more than 20,000 hours of volunteer service since the former Retired and Senior Volunteer Program was established within FirstLINK.

The fact that the annual RSVP recognition luncheon was held on the Eastside of the city posed a problem for the two recipients. Neither Purdy, who will be 90 in a few months, nor Jones, who will be 92 soon, drive.

Purdy walks to her duties at Doctors Hospital and Jones hops aboard a bus.

They were surprised with a limousine ride to the restaurant where they and about 200 other Franklin County volunteers over the age of 55 were honored for their dedication.

Volunteering has meant so much to Purdy over the years.

“It’s a wonderful thing and why people don’t do it is something I can’t understand,” she said.

And Jones echoed that statement, but making it a bit more specific.

“If only more people would give blood.”

He practices what he preaches. The next time he is eligible to donate will put him at the 22-gallon level.

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