Educator Turns Volunteer
As a chemistry professor emeritus from Northwestern Oklahoma State University (NWOSU), Dr. Kenneth Brown does not want to waste his retirement just sitting around doing nothing.
“I want to keep mentally sharp and physically active,” said Brown.
Brown is one of several volunteers at Share Medical Center (SMC) who volunteer to remain busy during their retirement years. He not only volunteers at SMC but at the regional food bank, The Runnymede as well as the United Methodist Church in Alva.
“I need to be busy and useful. I enjoy being around people and I work to stay healthy,” says Brown.
A retired Yankee, as he calls himself, Brown came to Alva from back east to teach chemistry at NWOSU.
“My high school teacher first influenced my decision to major in chemistry; it was further influenced by my college professors.
“Funny…when I went to college, I had a terrible first year. I didn’t do so well in my first chemistry class. But I made it through, loved chemistry and noticed the lifestyle that my professors lived. I knew then I wanted to become an educator.”
Brown attended a small, church-related liberal arts school for his undergraduate degree. It was there he decided that teaching in a small college or university was to be his life’s purpose.
After several years of teaching, raising four children and watching his six grandchildren grow, several who live in Alva, he has found ways to keep himself busy in retirement. He attends area athletic events, watches his grandkids play in sporting events and music events, and he enjoys reading and music. Even with all his attention given to family, he felt that he still had more to offer.
“SMC has given me an opportunity to be even closer to my community. I work in SMC’s registration a couple of times a week and also work a couple of days a week with the Bill Johnson Correctional Center (BJCC) offenders on the SMC yard crew. I enjoy working both areas, the people I work with, and I get to see my neighbors who come in for appointments. SMC employees are a close knit group of people and I enjoy being a part of the SMC family. I feel I am doing something that is making an impact in my community.”
“We are very pleased to have Dr. Brown as a volunteer. He is phenomenal with both our patients’ needs and directing phone calls for the hospital and nursing home. He is always eager to help us with any task presented, as well as occasionally extending his time with us on busy days. He has even volunteered to come in when he was not scheduled, when we were shorthanded. Dr. Brown is a very dedicated individual. We are very proud to have him at SMC,” said Tracy Miller, registration clerk.
“He is always willing to volunteer in registration. He is very helpful and is always willing to do more when he is around,” says Lydia Vasquez, registration clerk.
“I recognize many people who come into SMC when I see them. I have taught them in class, and have seen them at athletic events or around town. I may not know all their names, but I enjoy seeing them and talking to them. But I have to remember I can’t go home and say ‘guess who I saw today’. With HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations, I can’t share with anyone who I saw or who I talked to.
“Recently, I was working in registration when I recognized a young woman who walked in. I knew her face but could not place her name. She recognized me right away. I realized after talking with her that this woman grew up in my neighborhood and was now married. Then, I met her husband, who I did not recognize either. He told me that he had worked under me one summer years earlier. I can’t share with you their names, but it was good to see them and catch up on their new family and life.”
His experiences in registration are not the only views of life he can appreciate.
“Through my work with the offenders, I recognize all the hard work the BJCC employees do to help these young men get through their treatment programs. I have learned a lot from all my experiences volunteering.”
When asked at what has surprised him most about volunteering at SMC, he said, “I am surprised at what has to be done just to volunteer. Lots of places are just glad you came to volunteer and invite you in without a care. At SMC, they too are glad to see me, but I have to fill out paperwork. But this did not deter me from volunteering. I understand their needs and the regulations they face daily. This was an eye opener for me.
“I would encourage anyone to volunteer and to find their purpose in life. Our community needs all kinds of volunteers and anyone can find volunteer work to fit their time and interests.”
If you are interested in volunteering at Share Medical Center, Share Convalescent Home or The Homestead, volunteer applications can be picked up at the registration desk in the hospital lobby.