[btn]By Patty Talahongva[/btn]
Several opportunities to volunteer at the Phoenix Indian Medical Center on 16th Street and Indian School Road are now open. Margaret Wood, the auxiliary president, says help is needed staffing the lobby gift shop. The shifts are from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during the week only.

“We have a manager/buyer but it’s staffed by volunteers,” she says. “It’s a nonprofit shop and we don’t have to collect sales tax,” she adds.

Volunteers are asked to commit to one shift a week and can work more if they wish. Because it’s in a hospital that services American Indians, the shop does sell Native American art. “We do a long training program and you work with someone for months until you’re really comfortable,” Wood explains.

The gift shop also has a law-away program in which customers can pay off an item in three months without any fees.

Amy Bailey has been a volunteer for more than 17 years but she’s quick to point out she’s not the longest-serving volunteer. “I like it, the people are nice,” she says. Bailey also appreciates how the revenues benefit students.

“We’re working for scholarships for American Indians,” she points out. For her, that gives the volunteering position more meaning.

[pullquote_right]It’s a national program that gives out books to children who come in for well-child visits. – Margaret Wood[/pullquote_right]The hospital gift shop also accepts gently used books and magazines as donations and sells them for $1 and $2. There are literally hundreds of items for sale in this unique hospital gift shop that’s roughly 250 square feet.

Another volunteer opportunity is the “Reach Out and Read Program” in the pediatric department. “It’s a national program that gives out books to children who come in for well-child visits,” says Wood. With permission from the parents, the volunteer reads to the kids in the waiting area and then the book is gifted to the child.

Volunteers must pass a background check and be up to date on their immunizations. They can be as young as 14 but in order to work in the gift shop they must be at least 18. During the orientation volunteers learn more about the hospital, which was first established as a Tuberculosis Sanitorium decades ago.

Volunteers also must join the auxiliary and dues are $20 a year. If that fee is a hardship, it can be waived.

“I just think it’s a very worthy cause,” says Wood, who started volunteering in 2005. “It’s a great group of men and women.”

The PIMC Auxiliary also holds two fundraisers every year. A Book and Art Sale will be held on April 12 on the east patio. The money raised is used to help purchase items various departments need but are outside of the budget.

The auxiliary also funds the Indian Health Career Awards, a scholarship program for American Indian students studying in the health field. Twice a year they give out around 20 awards ranging from $700 to $1,000.

“It’s not a lot but it certainly helps,” says Wood.

To sign up to volunteer contact Roberta Arthur, the public affairs specialist for PIMC, at 602-263-1576.


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