Wooten receives 2017 Elaine M. Hill Distinguished Volunteer Service Award

On Wednesday, April 26, Wanda Wooten was honored with the 2017 Elaine M. Hill Distinguished Volunteer Service Award for the nearly 4,000 volunteer hours she has donated over the past 11 years.

Wooten receives 2017 Elaine M. Hill Distinguished Volunteer Service Award click to enlarge Wanda Wooten (center) accepts her award from Linda Bowles (left) and Suzanne Herman (right)

At an evening ceremony on April 26 held at the Friday Center, the 2017 Elaine M. Hill Distinguished Volunteer Service Award was presented to Wanda Wooten. Wanda has dedicated countless volunteer hours to UNC Hospitals, setting up the tea cart service that delivers hot drinks and warm conversation to patients and caregiver in the N.C. Cancer Hospital.

During the ceremony, Suzanne Herman, UNC Health Care System Director for Customer Experience, said that Wanda embodied the characteristics the Elaine Hill Award was created to honor. 

“During her years of service, Elaine Hill exemplified the heart and soul of the volunteer’s spirit of caring," said Herman. "Her commitment to excellence in patient care and service makes her one of the true heroes of UNC Health Care. Wanda Wooten embodies that same spirit of caring.”

In nominating Wooten, Tina Shaban, RN, BSN, manager of the UNC Comprehensive Cancer Support Program’s Patient and Family Resource Center, said that the tea cart program runs like a well-oiled machine. A decade ago, the program consisted of a single cart run by Wooten herself. Today, patients and caregivers can get tea, coffee, snacks and conversation from the cart in the mornings and afternoons, every weekday.

“Wooten exemplifies all that is great in a volunteer and all that is great in an extraordinary person,” said Shaban. “UNC is so blessed to have the talents and compassion of this incredible woman as part of our health care system.

Since she began volunteering in February of 2006, Wooten has donated nearly hours to UNC Hospitals. In addition running the coffee cart, Wooten also serves on the Patient Family Advisory Board and as the finance chair on the Volunteer Association’s Advisory Council.

Linda Bowles, director of volunteer services, describes Wooten as "one of those volunteers you’d like to clone. When we developed the tea cart program for the new Cancer Hospital, she made it her goal to provide compassion and support for patients and family members.  She is one of those rare people who knows just what to say or when to provide that special touch that says, ‘I care.’ We love her.”

One of the clinics in which Wooten volunteers is that of Linda Van Le, MD, Leonard D. Palumbo Distinguished Professor of Gynecologic Oncology, who describes Wooten as “the model volunteer and exemplary of a caring human being.”

In addition to the award ceremony, this year’s festivities included a selfie station with a green screen that allowed volunteers to take pictures of themselves in front of well-known landmarks – from the Eiffel Tower to the Old Well to tie in with the celebrations theme of “Volunteers Make a World of Difference.” Volunteers were also invited to place pins on a world map showing where they are from as a way to highlight the diversity of volunteers at the Medical Center.

Elaine M. Hill, director of Volunteer Services from 1967 to 1990, began service at N.C. Memorial Hospital by serving refreshments at the hospital's opening in 1952. During her years of service, Hill exemplified quality patient care. She was instrumental in implementing the playroom for pediatric patients in the late 1950s, among other contributions. In recognition of her leadership, in 1990 the UNC Health Care Board of Directors approved naming the annual distinguished volunteer award in her honor.

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