As a founding member of the Cartersville Medical Center’s Auxiliary, she was recruited to join the group in the early 1960s, when it originally was referred to as the Pink Ladies. Initially serving Sam Howell Memorial Hospital, the group — now consisting of about 90 members, men and women — has witnessed a multitude of changes through the years, but their commitment to assist the community’s medical center and its patients has never wavered.
“Ever since 1963, I’ve been the time keeper for the auxiliary and kept up with everybody’s time,” said Kincannon, who only had to record the hours of about 20 volunteers in the beginning. “[Right now] Louise Rogers has the most hours. She’s got 10,000.
“[Overall, it is rewarding] being able to help [people]. I think lots of times [for example, when there is] a death ... if you can give them a [comforting] word or something like that it helps. [At the front desk, I greet people] with a smile. I try to be pleasant always and give them a smile and make them feel welcome, and if they feel lost, try to direct them in the right direction.”
In honor of the auxiliary’s 50th anniversary, the public is encouraged to help celebrate their milestone at a reception Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at CMC’s classroom No. 2.
“We [also] would like for some volunteers that had to leave us because of health reasons or whatever to come by and see us [as well as] the hospital staff,” said CMC Auxiliary President Shirley Hight who joined the group in 2005. “We expect [to see] them [too].
“We’ll have refreshments and some scrapbooks on display. ... We have a group of really good, caring people that are from all different walks of life. Our group feels kind of like a family and we try to work as a team for the good of the hospital and the patients and their families.”
Along with the front desk, where Kincannon volunteers eight hours a week, auxiliary members also serve in the CMC’s gift shop, emergency department and outpatient surgery area. Along with helping patients reach their vehicles via wheelchairs, volunteers also provide transportation to the facility for residents who need assistance in the parking lot.
“In addition to providing thousands of volunteer hours to our hospital, staff and patients each year, the volunteers are excellent ambassadors on our behalf in the community,” CMC President/CEO Keith Sandlin said. “Our volunteers are also extremely generous with the funds they raise through the operation of The Gift Shop at Cartersville Medical Center, donating several thousand dollars a year in scholarships as well as making equipment donations to our hospital.
“Camp Monarch, an annual multi-day event that recognizes and offers support to local cancer patients and survivors, is sponsored exclusively by our volunteers. Our volunteers are a wonderful and caring group for whom we are so appreciative and proud.”
Promoted as "a journey of hope, health and happiness," Camp Monarch emphasizes fun, relaxation and support for its attendees, who have been diagnosed with cancer at one point in their lives.
Created and funded by the auxiliary since 2008, Camp Monarch was spearheaded by auxiliary member Nancy Zerbe. As a breast cancer survivor, Zerbe was inspired to offer a program tailored specifically for the Bartow community after learning about Northside Hospital’s overnight camp for cancer patients.
“My idea was, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to get somebody that was in remission [to interact] with somebody who’d just been diagnosed,’” Zerbe said. “Not only do you see the benefit for the person that’s just been diagnosed but it’s also good for the person that’s in remission because the further away you get from your cancer, the more you forget. It makes you aware and it also makes you grateful and it gives you an opportunity to give back to someone else and encourage them to survive.
“... What we hope is that people make lasting friendships. Often when you are a cancer patient, the cancer becomes the whole thing about you. It’s all about cancer. And this [program] is informative but it’s also fun and it’s [about] sharing. ... The community has been wonderful and has embraced [Camp Monarch]. We mainly have had speakers from the Bartow County area because you have so many people that are so talented and are such good speakers and entertainers.”
For more information about the auxiliary or to obtain an application, call the CMC human resources department at 770-387-8172. Along with being at least 18 years old, members are required to volunteer at least four hours per week and attend monthly auxiliary meetings.