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Giving Back, Giving Hope

Leon Schneider is a St. John Owasso volunteer.  Since March 2006, he’s dedicated more than 10,000 hours to St. John hospitals as part of the St. John Auxiliary.  His favorite post – his spot at St. John Medical Center since his first day – is the Surgical Waiting Room.  He also serves at the information desk at St. John Owasso.  “I fell in love with the place the very first day,” Schneider says.  “I’m not sure exactly why.  I guess because it makes me feel like I’ve really accomplished something.”

Leon Schneider is also a pancreatic cancer survivor.  Diagnosed in 2004, he underwent a Whipple procedure, the most common operation to remove pancreatic cancers.  More than 10 years later, Schneider is among the scarce 6 percent of people who survive the rare cancer 5 years following diagnosis.  Every Friday when his shift begins, he checks to see if there are any Whipple procedures on the schedule.  “I enjoy being able to tell those people that I’m a survivor and that there’s hope,” Schneider says.

Retired from a 35-year career with Cities Service Company/OXY, Schneider is one of St. John’s more than 300 auxiliary members who serve in one or more of St. John’s hospitals.

“Our volunteers are no doubt the lifeblood of the day-to-day operations at all of our hospitals,” says Rebecca Ridenour, director of volunteer services for St. John. “They serve at reception and flower desks, gift shops, surgical waiting rooms, with pastoral care or on patient floors.”

The profits they raise through gift shop sales support many hospital initiatives too.

Founded in 1951, the St. John Auxiliary has contributed more than 2.5 million hours of volunteer service and raised more than $5 million for hospital equipment and furnishings. Among the beneficiaries are St. John patients, who for more than half a century have been greeted by warm smiles and compassion from the women and men in pink and blue.

Schneider, who is also serving his second term as Treasurer for the Auxiliary, says that volunteering at St. John is the highlight of his week.  “I remember when I was working, a bunch of my co-workers were talking about volunteering, and I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to volunteer and not get paid for it,” Schneider says.  “But there is just so much enjoyment that comes from volunteering and giving back.  We (the volunteers) aren’t working because we have to; we’re working because we want to.”

The Auxiliary is always looking for new members to join their team. For more information on volunteer opportunities with St. John, visit http://www.stjohnhealthsystem.com/volunteer or call 918-744-2198.

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