Toni Garrard Clay
Athens Daily Review
Three of the women who volunteer their time at ETMC Athens have a connection to the hospital that goes deeper than most. They were led to become auxiliary members by their mothers’ dedication to the organization.
“Mother didn’t start volunteering until she was 80,” said Lynn Coach, the daughter of the late and much-beloved ETMC Athens Auxiliary member Claudia Bell. “She was an auxiliary member until she was 96.”
Claudia worked at pharmacies in Athens and Malakoff until retiring at 80, after which she began to volunteer at the hospital.
“I saw what being a volunteer did for her, and I wanted that,” said Lynn, who became a volunteer herself about two years ago. “You get back more than you give here.”
Betty White has been an auxiliary member for about eight years and has served as the organization’s president. Her late mother, Ada Lou Coley, volunteered for at least five years.
“When she started volunteering, I thought it would be too much. But they put her at the desk, and she loved it. It wasn’t too much.”
Following in her mother’s footsteps after her own retirement was a simple step for Betty. “As long as I can remember, I wanted to be a hospital volunteer. I said when I finished teaching, that’s what I’d do.”
Kris Abendroth is a new auxiliary member. She and her husband, Jack, both signed up about two months ago. Kris also has a heritage in the organization. Her late mother, Iris Abendroth, was a volunteer at the hospital for about 18 years.
“She started volunteering after my dad retired,” said Kris. “She enjoyed it; she enjoyed meeting people and helping.
“She instilled in all of us that we need to give back and help where we can,” said Kris, who has eight siblings. “I just recently moved back, and I thought, ‘What better place to volunteer than here?’”
Lynn, Betty and Kris all have angel pins that were worn by their mothers as auxiliary members.
“I wear the pins my mother wore with pride,” said Lynn.
In fact, she said, her mother, Claudia Bell, was buried in her ETMC Athens Auxiliary uniform. “She wanted that,” said Lynn.
All of the women are proud to carry on the tradition started by their mothers and to be auxiliary members in their own rights.
“Any job we have,” explained Lynn, “gives us a sense of worth.”
For information about becoming an ETMC Athens Auxiliary member, please call the hospital gift shop at 903-676-1137. Applications may be picked up there as well.