Meet Kathy Oleski
Since starting as a volunteer at Hurley, Kathy has spent time working in the lobby shop and a lot of the COVID vaccine clinics, though most of her time is spent with the Hurley Elder Life Program (HELP). When elderly patients are admitted to Hurley, the HELP Team interviews them to determine their level of independence at home, learn about their families and identify hobbies and interests. HELP Team volunteers like Kathy then spend time with those patients with the goal of helping them avoid delirium during their stay. When Kathy first decided to volunteer, she says she “wanted to work in the NICU, holding babies, but now I wouldn’t give up my spot on the HELP Team.”
The HELP Team has access to a variety of games like cards and dominoes to play with patients to keep them engaged and happy, but Kathy says she inevitably ends up spending time with them because she enjoys listening to their stories and wisdom so much. “Something almost magical happens when you walk into a room and the patient isn’t happy to be in the hospital and your only job is to make them feel better, help them feel important. I’m changed by the experience. Every person has a story to tell, and it’s a privilege to be able to listen.”
After a successful career working as a CPA for 35 years, 21 of which was spent at an industrial heat treating company where she became CFO, the transition to volunteering was a natural one. The company she helped build was guided by an underlying goal of enabling its owners to help others and that philosophy helped to form Kathy’s own. She ended up volunteering at Hurley Medical Center because of timing; it was at the beginning of COVID shutdowns, and not many hospitals were accepting volunteers. Though she drives almost an hour to get to Hurley, she’s thankful she gets to be a visitor for some of the patients who need them most when visitors are limited.
When asked why she would recommend volunteering at Hurley, she says “no matter what’s going on in your own life, your problems will feel smaller when you see what other people are dealing with.” Her nomination for Volunteer of the Month came as a surprise because she feels like she contributes such a small piece to the program here, but she says it was “validating to know I’m doing the right thing with my time.”
"Kathy is a great example of dedication in volunteerism. She travels to us from Commerce Township to spend the day donating her time and talents to our community and organization. She starts her day volunteering in the Hospital Elder Life program, assisting our elderly patients in a series of interventions that prepare them to have successful hospital outcomes. She does a quick wardrobe change and moves down to the Lobby Shop to volunteer there in the afternoon. You might recognize her from her dedication to our Covid Vaccine Clinics in which she was a regular volunteer. Spending a full day of her time to our organization is such a valuable donation and it is very easy to be appreciative of her efforts. She is an absolute joy to have as a volunteer."
Jordan E. Brown, MBA
Director of Volunteer and Community Engagement