Principle over Politics? The Domestic Policy of the George H. W. Bush Presidency

By Richard Himelfarb; Rosanna Perotti | Go to book overview

Questions and Answers

Ronald H. Silverman: I see Mr. Brown and Mr. Powanda both nodding. Would either of you like to expand on this moral dimension of volunteerism, if you will, or at least part of it?

William C. Powanda: I guess it’s just that I wear a second hat as vice president of the Griffin Health Services Corporation, which is also a hospital, and the hospital has 500 volunteers. And we have some very unique volunteer programs, one of which is Patient Hand-Holding, where a volunteer accompanies a patient into short-term surgery, particularly cataract surgery, and just basically holds their hand during the procedure, recognizing that it’s very hard to move, and there’s a signal system. You find, talking to those volunteers and the volunteers that do what we call “soft touch,” which is a massagelike rub of patients in their beds, the volunteers’ satisfaction level, what they get out of it, is so inspiring when you talk to them. So it’s really a dual benefit. They’re getting a lot out of it and they’re giving a lot, and the patient benefits and the volunteer benefits. And I think that’s the success story of good volunteer programs and good volunteers.

Silverman: Before you pitch in, Mr. Brown, let me be deliberately provocative here. I’ve worked with volunteer organizations for years, and I’m something of a student of them, and you know, you don’t have to go very far to observe crummy volunteer organizations. The service provided by voluntary organizations is sometimes not only disappointing but beyond disappointing, almost to the point of gross inefficiency and even corruption. Those of us who have observed the saga of Adelphi University, for example, ought to be capable of restraining our sentimental enthusiasms for private service. Mr. Brown, have you observed any of that in your travels?

Dante Brown: In answer to your question, no. Fortunately for me, in our organization, we deal predominantly with youth, and the volunteers that come in, 90 percent of them are former children of our program. And 90 percent of them, their comments are always this: “If it wasn’t for the program, I don’t know where I would be.” Being that they wind up, because they’re products of the organization and they’ve reaped the benefit, they feel they want to give back and show someone else that there are benefits to what’s out there. And the volunteers don’t come in and do it one time or two times; they continuously do it, because they see the difference. And being a part and seeing a difference is what makes it work.

Powanda: Let me just add one thing, which is an entirely different kind of snapshot of this: Our hospital is very consumer driven; we have a very strong consumer philosophy. And to make sure that it is carried forward not only with our employees but to our volunteers, we put into place the same systems for hiring, recruiting,

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