October 10, 2003
Methodist volunteers donate thousands to fund research
By Lisa Uzzle Gates
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—A box of chocolates, an elegant piece of pottery, an inspirational book of verse.
When Debbie Phillips of Jackson rings up customer purchases at Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s gift shop, she knows the value of such items goes well beyond the sticker price.
Every sale benefits the Wilson Research Foundation, which supports research at the Center for Neuroscience and Neurological Recovery at the Jackson hospital.
It’s people like Phillips who make the donation possible. She’s among 19 volunteers who work in the shop under the direction of full-time manager Terri McKie.
“It helps cut those bottom line expenses when you don’t have to pay salaries and benefits for employees,” said McKie, the only salaried employee at the gift shop. “It means we can donate more funds to the foundation.”
The gift shop opened in 1996 and since that time the volunteer workforce has donated a total of $85,500 to the foundation, including this year’s $12,500 donation.
“It means a lot to me to know that this money goes to research,” said Phillips, 52. “I understand the importance of that.”
Following a stroke four years ago, the Jackson woman rehabbed at Quest, MRC’s community reintegration program for people with brain injuries. The former nurse began volunteering for the hospital at the suggestion of one of her therapists.
Phillips meets people every day who are benefiting from CNNR research. She remembers selling a box of chocolates to a man from Virginia just a few weeks ago. Ned Jeter, Virginia’s first West Nile virus case of 2003, came to Methodist for treatment after learning that CNNR researchers were the first to link the virus to a polio-like paralysis.
Dr. Dobrivoje Stokic, CNNR director said the donation benefits every patient who comes through the facility.
“We are always excited by this donation and very grateful for the hard work of the volunteers,” said Stokic. “The work we do here could not be accomplished without donations like this. I think that it is even more significant that this donation comes from those who give freely of their time to help others.”
Though Phillips came to the hospital during a very difficult time, she said it’s a joy to be behind the counter in the gift shop today.
“I love coming here. It’s like a ministry for me. You see people of all ages, sometimes going through so much. Being here gets me out of ‘me,’” she said. “It’s like a second family here.”
For more information:
Gift shop volunteers sell items to benefit neurological research | The Clarion-Ledger
Sandra Walker, left, volunteer director, Terri McKie, gift shop manager, and volunteers Grace Houston of Madison and Elzetta Davis of Jackson present a $12,500 check to Jim Malloy, chairman of the board governors of the Wilson Research Foundation, and the foundation's executive director, Bettye Sullivan.