Volunteer of the Year Jonnie Westbrook (right) with fellow auxiliary member Kenan Keyes.
Auxiliary member Elizabeth Meyer shares a moment with Janie Lowe, director of the Cancer Institute Department of Volunteer Services and Auxiliary.
Oct. 17, 2012 | Jonnie Westbrook has touched the lives of thousands of cancer patients and their families. But she’s not a doctor or a nurse. She’s not even paid for her hours of tireless work.
Westbrook is a founding member of the volunteer auxiliary at the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Since 1989, she has logged more than 5,000 volunteer hours for the auxiliary, earning her the title of 2012 Volunteer of the Year.
“Jonnie has been at the Cancer Institute since the day it opened. She does more for us than we will ever know, working behind the scenes and always keeping a smile on her face,” Janie Lowe, director of the Cancer Institute’s Department of Volunteer Services and Auxiliary, said.
Lowe presented the award to Westbrook at the auxiliary’s annual fall luncheon, which was hosted by Westbrook in her home. More than 65 people attended.
Westbrook volunteers each week in the Cancer Institute’s waiting rooms by serving snacks and coffee, answering questions, and providing comfort for patients and their family members. She also is a team leader for Partners Card, one of the auxiliary’s major fundraisers. For the past 12 months alone, she has volunteered 466 hours.
“Jonnie is always involved in our events and activities, but she would never shine the spotlight on herself. We wanted to present her this award to show her how much we appreciate her incredible dedication and compassion,” Lowe said.
Westbrook’s husband, Kent Westbrook, M.D., is one of the founders — along with James Y. Suen, M.D. — of the Cancer Institute, which opened in 1989. Kent Westbook, M.D., continues to serve as a distinguished professor of surgery in the UAMS College of Medicine. Suen is professor and chairman of the UAMS Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery.
With more than 600 members, the Cancer Institute auxiliary is one of the largest volunteer organizations in Arkansas. In 2011, the auxiliary raised and distributed more than $170,000 to support programs and projects directly benefiting cancer patients.
Volunteers serve in many capacities, including assisting patients in the waiting rooms, providing one-on-one assistance through the MVP (Most Vital Pal) program, performing live music in the atrium and staffing the gift shop.
Volunteers also assist with programs at the Auxiliary Cancer Support Center and UAMS Family Home, participate in special events such as cancer screenings and the annual staff breakfast, and work on fundraising projects.