In 2006, Lillie Biggins, FACHE, RN, was honored for her outstanding commitment to volunteer work. She took a break from her ongoing service to the community to share what giving of time and self truly means.
What did receiving the President's Volunteer Call to Service Award mean to you?
Of course, it was nice to be recognized for doing something I feel a strong commitment to - giving back to the community. But more importantly, I was moved by the acknowledgement of President Bush's work in developing this program to recognize the value of volunteers to the well-being and success of America.
I believe we are all called to do what we can to serve our fellow Americans and the communities we live in. With a commitment to work for the good of others, we will be stronger as a nation due to the individual strength of many.
Do you have a volunteer project especially close to your heart?
My work with the American Cancer Society has a special place in my heart, and through the current focus on patient navigators we have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of many. This disease has no respect for person or age; we are all vulnerable and the impact on the individual and the family can be devastating. The patient navigator supports the patient and family to maximally benefit from the systems in place to provide service to them.
We are currently working on a $1 million fund-raising campaign to continuously fund additional navigators for the county hospital in our community. These navigators help patients access medications, supplies, transportation, prosthetics, wheelchairs and other critical services that help the patient through the difficult journey of fighting cancer. Our success in this campaign will benefit families [living with cancer] for years.
After more than 23,000 hours of serving your community, would you look back and reminisce about how you "caught" the volunteer bug?
I'm a product of the Baptist Church where we were taught to be a blessing to others. As children, we worked with our parents in the church food and clothes drives for the disadvantaged in our church and community. I learned early in life the joy of giving and sharing.
My first big bang as an adult was my volunteer work with a sickle cell organization. This is where I first saw how not-for-profit organizations fulfilled their missions, and learned how the role of community volunteers could help them meet both financial and programmatic goals. The volunteer bug is contagious and I hope to infect many as I continue on this journey. With just a little bit of time, we can all play a role and make a difference in the lives of others.
How do you measure personal success?
Personal success to me is honoring my God's teaching and living according to His word. I'm blessed and honored He has chosen me and trusts me to do His work. It is also a measure of goal-setting, preparation and impact on those in your life.
How do you encourage others to give of themselves?
I asked my team members to consider service to a volunteer organization and they did! Some had never done so. I recommended a couple of them to organization leaders and they were offered opportunities with the YWCA and United Way. They love their time volunteering and use it as a way to contribute to the community and use the God-given talents they have. Another one on them has gotten involved with high school students and serves as a role model for how they can become involved in healthcare. People are willing to be involved; they just need to be asked or invited to participate.
I served on the American Heart Association board for 15 years. During my involvement as chair of the Heart Walk, my children were up at 4 a.m. the day of the walk helping to set up for the event in the park. They learned the great satisfaction of helping raise money to help others. As young adults, they continue to participate in volunteer activities. It's important we involve our future generation in the joy of volunteering.
What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?
My greatest professional accomplishment is that through God's grace and mercy I became a registered nurse and a member of the healthcare profession. It is here that my compassion for others and the gift of caring has been actualized all for the glory of God.