A Woman of Many Hats

by Nov 30, 2021People, South Brunswick

A recipient of the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award, Ann Hollingsworth serves the South Brunswick community in her signature style.

When it comes to serving the South Brunswick community, Boiling Spring Lakes resident Ann Hollingsworth wears many hats, both literally and figuratively.

Between her roles as Dosher Memorial Hospital’s vice president of volunteers, chairperson of Boiling Spring Lakes’ Community Appearance Commission and booster member of Southport-Oak Island Chamber of Commerce, Hollingsworth has dedicated thousands of hours over the past two decades to serving her community — all while sporting one of her signature hats.

When Hollingsworth moved to Boiling Spring Lakes in 1999, she immediately started searching for ways to get involved in the area. Not one for spending her retirement days idling away, she began volunteering with the Appearance Commission, a team of community members appointed to promote the city’s beautification efforts.

“I just needed a purpose in my life, and I was ready to do something to give back,” Hollingsworth says. “I felt like if I could find a way to help others a little bit, then I should do it, because God has always been so good to me.”

Dosher Hospital Ann Hollingsworth

In 2004 a chance encounter while on a bus ride to Thalian Hall led to Hollingsworth’s work with Dosher Memorial Hospital. Hospital volunteer Eunice Hogan struck up a conversation with Hollingsworth and encouraged her to join Dosher’s team of more than 160 volunteers, an invitation she eagerly accepted.

“I started volunteering and I fell in love with it, because I felt like I was really doing something to help people,” Hollingsworth says. “It’s such a friendly, patient-oriented hospital, and I love that it isn’t about the gold there, it’s about the patient.”

From staffing the front reception desk to serving in the gift shop, Hollingsworth has spent the last 16 years supporting the mission of Dosher in multiple ways. She’s a favorite volunteer among patients and visitors, and her dedication and contributions to the hospital have not gone unnoticed. Last year she received the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award, a recognition honoring both her service to Dosher as well as her volunteer efforts within the community of Boiling Spring Lakes.

“Ann leaves people better than how she found them,” says Ilene Evans, Dosher’s director of marketing and community relations. “Whether you have a brief exchange with her at the front entrance of Dosher Hospital or a friendship with her of many years, her imprint is unmistakable.”

A big proponent of small businesses, Hollingsworth recently began volunteering as a booster member with Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce. Geared toward individuals who do not own their own business but still wish to remain active with the local business community, this membership level allows her to support the city she’s grown to love so much.

“I want to be a good ambassador of the community,” Hollingsworth says. “I love Southport and visit the waterfront and the restaurants there two or three times a week. I’d like to see them survive and do well, especially with all the struggles with COVID.”

Karen Sphar, executive vice president of the Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce, calls Hollingsworth a community champion.

Ann Hollingsworth Dosher Hospital

“Ann is always ready and willing to volunteer and help where her community needs,” Sphar says. “Her positive energy and infectious smile are her trademarks.”

Another of Hollingsworth’s beloved trademarks are the many fashionable hats she never leaves home without. She started collecting them in 1970 and now owns more than 100, but it wasn’t until working at Dosher that the habit of wearing one every day truly began. While assigned the volunteer position of hospital shuttle driver, Hollingsworth found herself struggling to keep her curls presentable after spending time outside going back and forth in the wind and sun. Wearing a hat solved the problem, and the colorful assortment of cowboy, newsboy and other cap styles has now become a recognizable fixture in her daily wardrobe.

“People will never see me without a hat, because I wear one every day now,” Hollingsworth says. “I love that I can just comb my hair, put on a hat and be ready to go. I guess you can get away with a lot when you’re in your 70s!”

Now that many of the hospital’s COVID restrictions regarding volunteers have eased, Hollingsworth has resumed her busy schedule of splitting time between her role there, with the Community Appearance Commission and her new endeavor with the chamber of commerce. She has no plans of slowing down any time soon and encourages others with time to spare to find something that fulfills them.

“I’d tell anyone who might be interested in helping someone else, to just do it, because it makes you feel so much better,” Hollingsworth says. “I’ve been thanked many times for what I do, so I know that I’m appreciated, and it feels good to know you’re making yourself valuable in your community.”

Photography by Doc. Liberty