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Economy Affecting Public's Ability to Volunteer

Volunteers are the backbone of many area organizations, including Cox Health System. But as KSMU's Michele Skalicky reports, the current state of the economy is forcing many of them to cut back on hours or quit altogether.

At Cox Health System, more than 1200 volunteers do everything from working in the gift shop and delivering flowers to manning the front desk and working directly with patients. Barbara Frogue, director of volunteer services at Cox, says volunteers are very valuable. In fact, she says, the hospital couldn't function without them.

Volunteers put in 9,950 hours at Cox in March and 7,815 hours in April. But several volunteers have begun cutting back on hours or quitting their volunteer positions altogether because of the economy.

Frogue says that's had an impact on departments that depend on the volunteers. Phyllis Hartley and her husband have been volunteering, sometimes up to 5 days a week, at Cox for three years. They work at information desks and serve as greeters and have helped deliver flowers.

Hartley was a ward secretary at Cox for 33 years, and after retiring and travelling with her husband for awhile, they decided to start volunteering for her former employer.

But when an opportunity came up at Cox for a paid position in Admissions on weekends, she jumped at the chance. She's been working at the that job now for about a year.

Hartley and her husband still volunteer 3 days a week, but she says they may have to consider cutting back on some of the hours they help out.

Hartley says if another job opens up during the week that she's qualified for, she might apply. And she says she'll keep working until they take her out feet first.

Because of the loss of volunteers at Cox recently, Barbara Frogue says they badly need more. If you'd like to apply, call 269-4169 or go to