Never Too Old To Make A Difference


You’ve probably been helped by a volunteer many times in your life. 

One place you’ll find them is at the hospital.  In fact, on average, Avera volunteers put in about 26,000 hours each quarter across Sioux Falls.  

Bob Sanborn spends a fair share of time at the hospital. 

But you won’t find the 92-year-old in a bed receiving care. 

You’ll find him walking the halls, escorting people to wherever they need to go. 

“So it can be quite a trip sometimes,” Avera Volunteer Bob Sanborn said. 

He also delivers plenty of flowers. 

But the most fun part of his volunteer work? Walking people to the door after they’ve been healed or had a baby. 

Kelli Volk: Why is that the best part?
Sanborn: I don’t know. Maybe it’s just kind of you’re closing the door on it. It was successful, the trip here. 

Sanborn has more than 11 years of volunteering under his belt. 

His inspiration for getting started? Being hospitalized himself a few years before that. 

“An old friend escorted me around and when I got healed I thought, ‘I’d love to do that,'” Sanborn said. 

Sanborn is Avera’s oldest volunteer right now, but some as young as 16 are getting involved. 

Right now, the health system has about 900 active volunteers across Sioux Falls. 

Each one adds something unique. 

“One of the great things about the volunteers, they have a lot of different skill sets so whether their backgrounds, what they can offer. Some want to be more in customer service areas, and some may just want to do more clerical and administrative things,” Avera Director of Volunteer and Retail Services Tricia Lohr said. 

Sanborn calls the volunteers he works with ‘inspirational.’ 

You only have to spend a few minutes around them to know they’re friends. 

“I work with a wonderful bunch of fellow volunteers, makes it a pleasure to come up here,” Sanborn said. 

But it’s not just his fellow volunteers who keep him coming back multiple times each week. 

“It’s something to look forward to. I think, ‘Who will I meet today?’ Many times an old friend. In any case, meeting new people is always good I think,” Sanborn said. 

In fact, he calls the work a ‘lifesaver’ and something that has helped him stay active. 

Kelli Volk: How long are you going to do this?
Sanborn: As long as the joints will allow me I will do it. 

But for right now…

“This is a good organization, and I’m proud to be a part of it, however small that part is,” Sanborn said. 

That part might be bigger than he thinks. 

Lohr says Avera is always in need of more volunteers. 

In fact, the health system is looking to bring on 50-70 volunteers for its Avera on Louise Health Campus, which is slated to open in the fall. 

If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, click here. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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