Jodi Whitaker

Helping Others at Markey Cancer Center is Therapeutic Experience for UK HealthCare Volunteer

Published: Jan 29, 2013


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Video by UK Public Relations and Marketing. To view a transcript, click here


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 29, 2013) — In 2009, Al Rodd spent more time than he would have liked at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., helping care for his wife of 48 years, Barbara Rodd, whose breast cancer had metastasized to several areas of her body, and who had been given only two years to live.


Today, just a little over a year after his wife's passing (she passed just short of that two-year mark), Rodd is turning that experience into a positive by volunteering at UK HealthCare's Markey Cancer Center — something he says he is proud to do in Barbara's memory.


"I just really love doing it," said Rodd who now makes Lexington his home. "I get up in the morning and I can't wait to get here."


Rodd is one of more than 500 volunteers at the UK HealthCare facilities who work hundreds of hours in five medical campus buildings performing numerous duties. As a "wayfinder," - he is one of about 20 volunteers dedicated to assisting patients and their families in finding their way around the medical campus.


Rodd began helping patients maneuver appointments, tests, procedures and other needs while with his wife at the cancer center in Florida where they went numerous times each week for nearly two years. As a frequent visitor, Rodd found himself familiar with the facility, and he often spent time helping other patients and families find what they needed.


"I got to know every nook and cranny at the hospital, and I got to know lots of other patients," Rodd said it. "I'm a good observer. I saw what patients needed and what made them feel better. I wasn't a volunteer there, but I found myself helping other people."


After Barbara's passing in November 2011, Rodd moved to Kentucky to live closer to one of his sons. Shortly after moving here, Rodd contacted the UK Chandler Hospital Volunteer Department.


"I told them I only wanted to volunteer at the cancer center," he said. "That was the only thing I wanted to do. I know what those patients and their families need and what they are going through. I want to help them.


"Every day I see people — especially new patients and their families — who are scared and have no idea where they are going. I explain to them how to park, how to take the shuttles to get here. I try to make it so it isn't overwhelming for them. I try to set their mind at ease."

Rodd volunteers two days each week, but even when he is not scheduled to be there volunteering, Rodd finds himself at Markey helping others.


"I usually come in every day and just spend a couple of hours there just because I like it," Rodd said. "I really, really want to help people."


There are numerous volunteer opportunities for people of all ages at the UK Chandler Hospital. Each area has its own specific tasks, but according to Rodd, each has its own reward. "If I can solve somebody's problem — if I can come up with the best solution for them that helps them — I love to do that. It's therapeutic for me," Rodd said.


In addition to wayfinding, volunteers work in several other areas throughout UK HealthCare, including flower and mail delivery, assisting family waiting rooms, and staffing one of three medical campus gift shops


Sherry Watts, a flower and mail delivery volunteer since June, said she enjoys interacting with hospital patients. "You get to meet people, and you're giving them something that makes them happy," Watts said. "It's fun and rewarding."


Bonnie Thornton, director of Volunteer Services, said her hope is that every hospital volunteer enjoys what they do as much as Rodd.


"We want people to enjoy what they are doing, and to leave feeling like they have helped make someone's day a little brighter," Thornton said. "We don't want people to just volunteer — we want people volunteer in situations that will be rewarding for them and for those they help. And sometimes, for those like Al Rodd who have had personal experiences, it becomes more about giving back and of honoring someone's memory."


For more information or to sign up to volunteer at UK HealthCare, call 859-323-6023 or email



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