May 20, 2013

Maury Regional's original volunteer continues to inspire others


COLUMBIA, Tenn. — Dorothy Sowell has a remarkable record of volunteer service at Maury Regional Medical Center. She is one of the 127 women that met on the hospital’s front lawn six weeks before its doors opened on December 13, 1953.

“We were the first volunteers for what became the Maury Regional Women’s Auxiliary,” Ms. Sowell said. “Most of the women were doctors’ wives. We each paid $1 dues to become volunteers.”

It was Ms. Sowell’s husband, Frank, who suggested she look into volunteering at what then was the new hospital. More than 50 years later she is still at it, greeting people as they enter the lobby, tracking down a wheelchair for patients in need and dispensing directions and information with a warm smile.

Steve Meservy works the volunteer shift with Ms. Sowell almost every third Friday.

“We haven’t missed a day working together for the past three years and I can tell you that I don’t hesitate to get up the morning when it’s time to come in,” Meservy said. “She is a complete joy to work with.”

MRMC Nurse Practitioner Reba McCoy is another of many who admire the irrepressible Ms. Sowell. McCoy recalled an early morning encounter with her in the hospital’s employee wellness center.

“I was in the gym at around 6:30 a.m. The door opened and Ms. Sowell came in pushing her walker. She had an appointment with one of the trainers,” said McCoy. “It was only a few days earlier that she had asked me if I thought she could use the wellness center. When I told her the trainers could tailor a program just for her she smiled and said, ‘Well, then I can do this!’ Her smile was so big and happy, it just made my day. I hope I can have that kind of motivation as I continue to age.” 

Ms. Sowell likes to exercise at the wellness center three or four days a week whenever she can.

“I usually do my thing for about an hour or so. I like it very much. It’s very nice and has all kinds of equipment. Of course, I can’t use all of it, but I do what I’m able. I encourage other Maury Regional volunteers and staff to take advantage of the wellness center as often as they can,” she said.

Ms. Sowell enjoys exercising in the wellness center, but it’s not hard to see her passion is people.

“I like people. I like being here. I have the opportunity to help turn long faces into large smiles every day I’m here. I see it happen all the time,” she said. “So many people come here from out of town, not knowing where to go. I help them find their way and they smile. Some need a wheelchair, so I get them a wheelchair and they smile. Often I just say hello and share a smile with them and they smile. It’s nice.”

Dorothy Sowell is the only charter member of the Auxiliary that continues to be an active MRMC volunteer in our hospital.

“She truly is an inspiration to others,” said Director of Volunteer Services Cindy Fox. “We are blessed to have her at Maury Regional Medical Center.”