Newcomers to University of Minnesota Medical Center could use a map to navigate the many hallways of the hospital campus—or they could just ask Stuart White.
That’s the situation David Dixon, a supply chain manager, found himself in when his team was assigned to make deliveries more than ten years ago. Dixon went the extra mile to make his employees’ days a little easier, creating informational binders and papering the walls with hospital maps and floor plans.
All he needed, it turned out, was one extraordinarily reliable volunteer.
“[The team] looked at me and said, ‘I don’t think we’re going to use this,’” Dixon remembered. “‘If we have a question, we’re going to ask Stu.’”
Dixon didn’t know White yet, but that would soon change. After a decade at the hospital, Dixon understands why so many at University of Minnesota Medical Center rely on White—a prolific volunteer who has logged 50,000 hours—an entire career of service—at the hospital.
In 1982, White responded to a call in the local newspaper for volunteers at the medical center. He began volunteering every Tuesday at University of Minnesota Medical Center’s East Bank campus.
White found that he enjoyed the volunteer work. Soon after he started, White decided to give more of his time to the medical center. When others could no longer volunteer regularly, White took over their roles. He added shift after shift—at times volunteering most days of the week.
The commitment added up. This September, White hit a major milestone: 50,000 hours of volunteer service at the medical center. But White considers this number small compared to all he’s been able to offer to the patients and staff at the hospital.
“The number of hours isn’t as important as just being part of things here,” White said.
As a volunteer, White takes on any task with a smile on his face and a joke to share.
Over time, White became a go-to resource to help staff make deliveries on campus, using his comprehensive knowledge of campus to help delivery people get where they needed to go.
“I remember showing a fill-in delivery person around the East Bank,” White said. “I showed him how to do the route, and we did all eight buildings in 90 minutes.”
For a time, White even made flower deliveries himself, brightening the days of patients and staff alike.
“People looked forward to Stu doing his rounds, even if they weren’t receiving the flowers,” said Dixon. “Stu knew every floor, every person, and he is an invaluable resource to my staff.”
New opportunities prompted White to begin volunteering at University of Minnesota Medical Center West Bank campus nearly five years ago. Today, he ensures that NICU items—including blankets, onesies and more—are neatly folded and stocked for use. When a family takes home a special blanket after receiving care at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, chances are good that White folded it.
"Stuart ensures that everything is nice, neat and presentable for us, and for patients, visitors, and their families," said Dixon. “His help makes everything a lot easier for our staff as we all help patients.”
After nearly 40 years, volunteering at the medical center has become a part of White, and he shows no signs of slowing down. He’s happy to fill his days helping others, and he knows he isn’t the only one; White is pretty sure long-time volunteer Hinda Litman has more hours than him.
Still, White’s volunteering is having an impact—something that keeps him coming back.“Stuart enjoys seeing the same people day after day, and he's making a difference when he's here,” Dixon said. “He's able to feel proud of what he is doing, and we’re lucky to have him.”