Fulfillment Through Volunteering

Guild Seeks New Crop of 'Superheroes' to Join Forces

Fifteen years ago, Patrick Popola was going through some very hard times when a neighbor made a suggestion that really turned things around for him.

"My neighbor recommended that I try out volunteering at NorthBay Healthcare," explained the 86-year-old Fairfield resident. He decided to check it out and shortly thereafter signed up to be a NorthBay Guild volunteer.

"Volunteering really helped me out through those hard times. I got a lot of support from other Guild members; we're like a family helping each other out, wherever and whenever we can."

Retired from a 25-year career in the retail industry, Patrick gravitated toward volunteering in the Gift Shop at NorthBay Medical Center. "I had experience buying merchandise and setting up displays, and I love being around people. I guess you could say it was the perfect slot. And, it kept me going."

The Gift Shop is where you'll find Patrick on Monday mornings, and his goal for the day is simple: "If someone leaves the shop with a smile on their face, I feel I've accomplished something."

He also fills in where needed at NorthBay. "There's always something that needs to be done. If I can relieve somebody of tasks so they can go on to other things, I'm happy to help."

When not volunteering at the hospital, he serves on the NorthBay Guild's Leadership Council, and is a member of the NorthBay Guild Golf Tournament committee. He also volunteers with the Widowed Persons Association of California and is an avid bowler and golfer.

For others who may be in need of a lifeline or a purpose, volunteering with the NorthBay Guild is a good place to start, Patrick noted.

"Any time you can give something of yourself, you will get so much more in return. If you're retired and not working now, make good use of your time and help someone else out."

The NorthBay Guild is preparing for a new round of volunteer recruitment. If you're newly retired or making plans for the day when your work or family obligations are less, check out the website at https://www.northbay.org/volunteer to see if something resonates.

"Our Guild volunteers are vital to NorthBay Medical Center and to VacaValley Hospital," noted Jane Hilliard, director of Volunteer Services at NorthBay. "They greet patients and visitors, work on the floors by transporting patients or offering directions, assist hospital departments by completing paperwork or stocking carts or shelves, or serve as ambassadors in the community, at health fairs, events or anywhere we may need a helping hand."

Volunteers undergo an orientation, background check and receive training for their chosen service area. In return, volunteers commit to three or four hours a week for about 100 hours a year, on a regularly scheduled day, she added.

"Guild volunteers receive discounts in the hospital gift shops, and participate in Guild events. It's also a great opportunity to meet like-minded, civic-focused people within our community," she said.

For more information about volunteering at NorthBay, call (707) 646-3136.