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Mayo Clinic auxiliary members donated 143,000 hours in 2014

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Carol Daugherty, left, president of Mayo Volunteer Services; Darlene Vowels; and Sue Mattson, at right, present Dr. Jeffrey Bolton with a symbolic check representing the volunteer work done by Mayo employees duyring a luncheon Monday at the International Event Center.

There's a long history of volunteering at Mayo Clinic, which was obvious as hundreds of local residents gathered Monday for the Mayo Clinic Volunteer Programs luncheon.

Billie and Jerry Needham, of Rochester, have long been part of that history. Billie, 96, is a charter member of the original Methodist Hospital Auxiliary volunteer organization that formed in 1955. She "retired" earlier this year from her volunteer career after 60 years of working in the gift shop, sewing and knitting baby caps for the shop, among other things.

"It's kind of hard," she said of no longer making the baby caps. She has knit 4,044 of them over the years.

Billie remembers inviting about 35 women to a tea party to introduce the idea of a volunteer auxiliary. Almost all of them signed up that day. She is the last of the charter members.

"In the very beginning, we shopped for patients and helped them get things they couldn't themselves," she said. "Another of our very first things was sewing projects. We made 6,000 nurse caps for the student nurses."


Jerry Needham, 97, was on the board of directors of Methodist Hospital when his wife helped create the first auxiliary. After he retired, he joined her as a volunteer. He's still volunteering today after 33 years.

"I like helping out, and I get to see all of my friends," he said.

While they are the longest-serving volunteers, they certainly aren't alone in their love for serving Mayo Clinic. In 2014, more than 1,600 volunteers in the Mayo Clinic Volunteer Services, Methodist Campus Volunteers and Saint Marys Campus Volunteers programs donated a whopping 143,079 hours of work. That tallies up to a donation of almost $3.5 million, according to Mayo Clinic.

"I think that most of the auxiliarians (volunteers) are not doing it for the hours, but they are doing it because they feel a satisfaction of doing something for somebody. There's something about a volunteer job that's not a job," Billie Needham said. "You're doing it because you want to do it, not because you have to do it."

Jeff Bolton, Mayo Clinic's chief administrative officer, thanked the more than 500 volunteers at the luncheon on their service.

"What you do for Mayo Clinic is priceless," he told the volunteers filling the Rochester International Event Center on Monday.

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The Rochester International Event Center was filled to capacity Monday for a luncheon recognizing Mayo Clinic volunteers.

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