So Many Ways to Make a Difference
Ask a man who knows them all—Tony Holtry
Tony Holtry has seen Riverside Walter Reed Hospital from just about every possible perspective. As a volunteer, he moved patients from place to place in wheelchairs, gurneys, even beds. He helped the truly infirm handle the most basic of life's functions. And he now serves on the Make A Difference Advisory Council helping to raise funds for a variety
of patient and family needs, including
the new J. Doswell Dutton Family Care Center.
He's been a patient, too. In fact, that's what inspired him to become a volunteer at the hospital. "I was in my early sixties, pretty healthy I thought, and still working," Tony says. "Then one day, I found myself in the hospital after suffering a major heart attack." The heart attack was a life-changing event for this former Army Colonel who had spent 13 years employed by a defense contractor after retiring from the military.
"Being a patient really changed my viewpoint about a lot of things. For one thing, I gained new respect and admiration for the hospital's caregivers and the work they do every day to comfort and care for patients. They inspired me to help others as I'd been helped," he says. When he was able, Tony began doing volunteer work at Walter Reed, first in patient transportation and later in other areas of patient care.
Much as he enjoyed it, the volunteer work was cut short by recurring heart problems. His wife (and high-school sweetheart) Barbara says he'd come home after a day of volunteering "so happy because something good had happened." Though no longer able to handle the physical demands of patient care, he still wanted to serve the hospital and when he was asked to join the Make A Difference Advisory Council, he said yes without hesitation.
Tony has embraced his new role with the same joy, energy, and enthusiasm. He notes that helping patients and families directly is the focus of the Make A Difference Fund. "Every dime that comes in as a contribution goes out to provide for patient needs— anything from cash to pay for a prescription or cab fare to providing support for the new Family Care Center," he says.
Named after a distinguished volunteer and generous donor, the J.Doswell Dutton Family Care Center will be a much-needed addition for the hospital, Tony says, and will provide a nurturing, home-like setting for family and friends of ICU patients. It will have a kitchenette, full bath and shower, private consultation area, and WIFI.
Tony shares this parting thought, "The Make A Difference Fund is a way we can all be part of our community's hospital. And I think we all need to take responsibility for making things better. If we don't care for each other, support each other, provide for each other, life loses its meaning."