Jim Rider, a volunteer Discharge Suite Guide, cheerfully pushes a wheelchair down the Mission halls to Entrance 5 for a happy patient’s release to family, telling a joke or a story about his time as a veteran. This is just another Tuesday morning at the hospital for this 94-year-old volunteer who makes sure each patient leaves Mission Hospital has a warm and friendly memory of their experience.
Jim is just completing his 21st year as a volunteer on the Mission Hospital team, starting at St. Joe’s in 2001 with his wife Shirley, who was already a volunteer there. “I used to drop my wife Shirley off regularly for her volunteer time at the hospital and figured it would save gas to just stay and work there along with her!” When deciding to work in the Discharge Suite where he has been the most of the 21 years of his volunteer history, Jim says it was a job that just made sense to him because of what he could bring to the role: many years in sales and keen eyes and ears for what patients need in the short time he is with them. He is outgoing and loves having a new audience every day for his repertoire of old jokes. But Jim’s experience has taught him to be sensitive to his audience, and that laughter is not the best medicine for everyone.
On the other hand, he is kind and understanding as well. This is the advice he would give to our new volunteers: pay attention to what your patient might need emotionally and physically, and ask the staff or a more experienced volunteer if you need help. He is a master of practicality. He has learned in 21 years of volunteering that if someone has food in front of them, let them eat first before attending to them!
Jim served two tours with the Navy—one in World War II and another in Korea--and is very proud of his service to our country. Starting work at 16 years old in Williamsport, Maryland, with breaks for military service and college, Jim was always fascinated by the machinery in the mill where his father worked. This led him to a career in the textile industry. He traveled all over the east and mid-Atlantic regions and Chicago with his family. Eventually retiring back in North Carolina, Jim’s three grandchildren served as Junior Volunteers at the hospital, and a grandson currently works with Mission Hospital in the Information Technology Department. We could not be more proud of and grateful for the dedicated, multi-generational legacy he has created as part of the Mission Hospital family.