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Cancer survivor volunteers in honor of her father
ICU to present new opportunities
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Northeast Georgia Medical Center volunteer Addrienne Session takes a phone call in the waiting room of the intensive care unit. - photo by Tom Reed

Northeast Georgia Medical Center

The hospital accepts new volunteers throughout the year. Call the Volunteer Services office at 770-219-1830 to request an application and to schedule a time for a brief interview. Volunteers are required to make a minimum six-month commitment, according to the hospital's website.

The giving spirit

This holiday season, The Times each day spotlights a person or couple who give of themselves to help others in the community. Today, meet Addrienne Session, who volunteers at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in memory of her father.

 

As a 16-year cancer survivor, Addrienne Session knows how important kindness is to patients and families suffering from illness.

Her father had never been sick in his life. As a result, he was uncomfortable around sick people and hospitals.

When she was battling breast cancer, he called often to check on her.

"Everybody in the family would come to visit me, but he never did," Session said.

Her father was later diagnosed with a rare form of
cancer.

When she went to see him in the hospital, the nurses stopped her on her way to his room. They told her he had been crying over the way he treated her when she was sick. She said he now understood how important friends and family are when you're sick.

"Of course I was like ‘Dad, it's no biggy. I understand,'" Session said.

But he promised to make amends. He promised to join the hospital ministry at his church and visit people while they were sick.

Unfortunately, he was never able to see his promise through.

Today, Session volunteers at the hospital in memory of her father.

"I'm doing this for him," Session said. "Now I feel like he's smiling on me saying ‘Good job, baby girl.'"

For the last year, Session has volunteered at the hospital through First Steps, a program that provided resources and education to new mothers during the first three months of their child's life. That program will be closing at the end of the year.

She has already started volunteer training to work at the intensive care unit's information desk. Her new job will be to answer families' questions and phone calls and to find nurses, doctors and chaplains when needed.

"If you have someone who is in the ICU, the families have a lot of concerns," Session said.

She also intends to volunteer with a new program that focuses on providing physical touch to premature babies, which is awaiting approval from the hospital.

She said that though she's sad the First Steps program is closing, she is excited about the new opportunities.

"I'm looking forward to staying at the hospital," Session said. "I'll have more patient family contact. The ICU is a little bit more hands on."

Session said she is impressed with all of the things you can do as a volunteer with the Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

Having worked as a medical transcriptionist, nurse's aide and an administrative assistant in an outpatient surgery center, she knows how busy the hospital is.

She said the positions she has held as a volunteer could very well have been paid positions.

"Even if you were getting paid, you wouldn't get the feeling that you get. It's just not the same," she said. "A paycheck is a good thing, but this is something that money can't buy."

Session often encourages people to try volunteering if they want to do something special. Her two sons also volunteer; one reads to kindergartners.

One of the nice things about volunteering at the hospital, Session said, is that the staff takes the time to find out what a volunteer's interests are and when and where they will be most satisfied.

Session admits she is not a "morning person" and finds it difficult to be anywhere before noon.

She said there are certainly mornings where she doesn't exactly feel like getting up, driving to Gainesville and volunteering for five or six hours.

"Once I'm there, I'm so glad I didn't call and say I'm not coming," she said. "I like the feeling that it gives me that I'm really and truly helping someone."

 

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