Giving Spirit

by Jul 12, 2023Health, Nonprofits, People, South Brunswick

Margie and Don Eisenman both reach 5,000 hours of volunteer time at Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center.

Marjorie ‘Margie’ Eisenman draws laughs when she says, “They feed us at lunchtime,” as the reason she and her husband, Don, have volunteered 5,000 hours each over 23 years at what is now Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center in Bolivia.

“We often said, ‘When it gets to be like work, we’ll quit,’” says Mr. Don, as he is known at the hospital. “Well, that hasn’t happened.” Margie explains that when the couple moved to Shallotte in 2000, a neighbor was a volunteer at Brunswick Community Hospital in Supply and told them to see for themselves what the volunteers do.

Margie told the volunteer coordinator she wanted to move around, not sit at a desk. Don, on the other hand, said he would take the desk job at patient registration.

“I don’t want to work with a man,” said Dorothy “Dottie” Hoffman, the other volunteer at patient registration. It didn’t take long for her to adjust and enjoy the repartee with Don.

Novant Volunteers

“By the time Dottie left [about 2011],” Don was her boyfriend,” Margie says.

Delivering newspapers and other items to patients’ rooms and various departments was perfect for Margie.

As she became acquainted with the hospital, she noticed volunteers taking paper used only on one side and cutting it into four equal squares to give to staff members for notes. The hospital had all this paper and didn’t know what to do with it, so eventually the cut pages were glued at the top to make scratch pads.

“These are valuable to everyone,” says Jamie Vogler, manager of patient services, as she waves a pad in the air. “I like it because it stays intact until I’m done with it.”

“Emergency loves them because they need something to put notes on,” Margie says. She has been in charge of cutting paper and assembling scratch pads for the last 12 years. Now she brings paper from home to supplement the hospital’s supply. “They are short on paper here because everything is on computer now,” Don says. Margie also noticed that radiology had big pieces of cardboard they discarded. She acquired permission to take the cardboard and contacted Shallotte Middle School and Union Elementary School. “I figured a school could have the kids draw and paint on them,” she says. Teachers agreed.

Marjore Eisenman Novant

Don says his own role has decreased because of computers. Now he greets patients and escorts them to the appropriate area of the hospital. He says one thing he would like changed is to remove the plastic shields at outpatient registration. “You can’t hear the people or understand what they are saying,” he says.  “They stick their head between the shields anyway.”

Christie Delbridge, supervisor of volunteer services, writes in an email, “Marjorie and Don have demonstrated a commitment to our hospital and people in our community, which is strong and unique. They have volunteered through good and bad times helping us grow from one hospital to another. They truly have service to others in the core of their hearts.”

“We’re just plain ordinary people,” Margie says. “Ordinary people making an extraordinary difference,” Vogler adds. Before the couple married in February 2000, Don had retired as an electrician from Mack Trucks, Inc. in Allentown, Pennsylvania, after “33.8 years,” he says. Margie was an attendant at the halfway house on the golf course at Brookside Country Club in Macungie, Pennsylvania. As an avid bowler, Margie wanted to enter a bowling tournament. She says she used a 16-pound ball, and her average is 160. “I won the Allentown city tournament one year,” she adds. “I always enjoyed bowling.”

A friend who knew Don told Margie to ask him to bowl with her in the tournament. He consented, and with their spouses deceased, the couple started to date. They bowled after they moved to Shallotte, but a fall injured Margie’s shoulder and ended her bowling career. “I do miss it,” she says.

Don Eisenman Novant

Don says he used to golf twice a week, bowl once a week and volunteer another day. Now health issues have limited his participation in activities, although he rides his bike and swims in their in-ground pool. Margie continues to exercise at home.

The Eisenmans volunteer five hours a week, but when they began, their commitment was six hours a week.

Don chose Tuesdays, and Margie chose Thursdays, even going in on Thanksgiving Day. “We live together, but we don’t work together,” Margie says, although now they both volunteer on Thursdays.

“It’s amazing what volunteers do,” Vogler says. “Our volunteers get fresh flowers each week and make arrangements for them to be sold in the gift shop. They write cards for vets and escort patients. Our volunteers add so much to our patients, our team and to each other.”

“Everybody works together,” Don says. “It’s always been fun,” Margie says.

Want to volunteer?
Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center
240 Hospital Drive, Bolivia
(910) 721-1000
Contact Volunteer Coordinator Christie Delbridge at cudelbridge@novanthealth.org