CAMBRIDGE -- Every day Southeastern Med counts on volunteers to provide added support for patients, visitors and families. Whether it's greeting a visitor, assisting an associate or other countless duties, volunteers provide that added something special that patients, visitors and staff appreciate and value.

Southeastern Med is fortunate to have a group of more than 150 dedicated people who volunteer their time throughout the year. Five special couples not only share their lives together, they also share a love of helping others by volunteering together at Southeastern Med.

Don and Sandy Thatcher; Jim and Donna Ferguson; Harry and Martha Knauf; Marty and Linda Rothwell; and Don and Jolene Sigman have been dedicated volunteers for several years, and each has a great appreciation for their role in helping patients, families and visitors.

Sandy Thatcher started her volunteer work in Southeastern Med's Gift Shop in 1987 and her husband, Don, joined her in 2008.

"I love to volunteer," Sandy said. "I used to volunteer for the Red Cross many years ago, so when my daughter took over the Gift Shop, I decided it was time to start volunteering again."

Soon after Don and Sandy married in 2008, she persuaded her new husband to also volunteer in the Gift Shop.

"I love meeting new people, and volunteering let's me connect with many different people in the community," Don said.

Jim and Donna Ferguson volunteer together two days a week in the Emergency Department and Lobby Information Desk. The Fergusons began volunteering in August 2009, and they both agree that volunteering has heightened their appreciation as to just how important volunteers are to every department of the hospital.

"When Jim was hospitalized for a heart attack at a different hospital, we saw firsthand how active volunteers are in a hospital," Donna said. "Soon after, he started cardiac rehabilitation here, and several people kept mentioning to him about volunteering here. We finally decided it was time to give back to others by volunteering."

The busy ED environment has been the most rewarding to the Fergusons.

"When the ED is full, we really take a load off of the triage nurse," Donna said. "We enjoy staying active, and if the ED is really busy when our shift is over, we stay later to help out. We truly take pleasure in helping others, and volunteering at the hospital is a rewarding experience."

Volunteers at Southeastern Med help in patient care units and provide valuable assistance in support areas, information desks and the Gift Shop.

"Volunteers make a huge impact at the hospital," said Diane Burch, volunteer coordinator. "Come in any entrance or check in for surgery and chances are the first person you meet will be a volunteer."

Volunteers at the hospital come from a variety of backgrounds and abilities -- all that's required is a desire to help others. Men and women who are at least 16 years old are eligible. Perspective volunteers are required to submit their information for a background check.

For information about volunteer opportunities at Southeastern Med, call Diane Burch at 740-439-8147.