PEKIN, Ill. (WMBD) — For almost three decades, a World War II veteran has been donating his time at UnityPoint Health in Pekin.
93-year-old Kevin Johnson retired from Caterpillar in 1984 and considers volunteering his second career.
“It keeps me out of sinful places like bingo [halls],” he joked.
With his sprightly sense of humor and helpful attitude, Johnson spends his time at the hospital escorting patients, working in the gift shop, and transporting lab samples.
Johnson calls volunteering a public service, and said socializing is an added bonus.
“I have time, I need something to do, [and] I don’t want to sit around watching television all day,” he said.
UnityPoint Volunteer Coordinator Robert Hancock said volunteers like Johnson are essential.
Their volunteers contributed approximately 30,000 hours last year, or the equivalent of 15 full-time employees. That’s excluding the five months of 2020 when the pandemic forced volunteers to stay home from March through August.
“The volunteers are everything to the hospital. We found out during the pandemic how much we missed them. When they came back, there was a lot of celebration,” said Hancock.
Hancock said they have about 200 volunteers, but are always looking for more. Volunteers typically spend one shift, or four hours per week at the hospital.
“The person I’m looking for is the type of person who wants to give back to the community,” he said.