Cookie Elliott, Riverside Tappahannock Hospital Volunteer Champion of the Year

Annual volunteer recognition luncheon celebrated Elliott and 35 other compassionate adult volunteers who contributed more than 11,000 hours of service in 2018.

Tappahannock, Va. - For her thousands of hours of support, and years of giving so generously of her time to patients and their families, Riverside Tappahannock Hospital is pleased to announce it has named Cookie Elliott its Volunteer Champion of the Year for 2018.

“We volunteer from the heart,” said Elliott, who started volunteering at the hospital back in 2012. “You have a real purpose here. As volunteers, we don’t have to do anything, but we all want to do it. And the staff is counting on us.”

The award was presented at the hospital’s annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon, which also honored and celebrated the hard work and compassion of all 36 adult volunteers who logged more than 11,000 hours collectively in 2018 volunteering for Riverside to serve the community.

Riverside Tappahannock Hospital Volunteer Recognition Luncheon 2019 Attendees

The event is held each year during National Health Care Volunteer Week, a celebration of the ways that volunteers support health care operations and the many patients, families and friends they help care for each day.

A lifelong resident of Tappahannock, Elliott said she has enjoyed her role as the hospital’s Gift Shop Team Lead, a position that allows her to interact with and comfort those who have loved ones receiving care.

While receiving the Volunteer Champion of the Year award made her feel good, Elliott said that the interaction she has with the patients and staff at the hospital makes her feel even better.

“That’s the good thing about being up there,” Elliott said. “It’s not just this recognition, it’s the doctors and the nurses walking by and smiling and saying ‘thank you, we appreciate you.’ It’s a good family environment, from the volunteers right on through.”

Volunteers are often patient facing, playing an important role in hospital operations and the quality of the care experience.

In addition to serving in the Gift Shop, volunteers at Riverside Tappahannock Hospital may be found cheerfully greeting people on the way in to the hospital, or shuttling families to and from their cars. Others might serve as the liaison in the surgical waiting area, lending a helpful hand to guide patients from registration to the appropriate prep room – personally making sure they are as comfortable as possible while they wait.

Riverside Tapphannock Hospital Volunteers Celebrate Milestones at 2019 Recognition Luncheon

“Our patients constantly talk to us about the interactions they have with the people who are volunteering,” Liz Martin, Riverside Health System Senior Vice President and Administrator for Riverside Tappahannock Hospital and the surrounding region, said at the luncheon while presenting the awards that honored volunteers’ service, achievements and milestones. “Everything that you do to make them feel comfortable makes a difference.”

In 2018, 36 adult volunteers gave 11,171 hours of service to Riverside Tappahannock Hospital, its patients and their families across the region.

An additional 1,323 hours were also contributed by 27 junior volunteers.

While the sheer number of hours volunteers contribute is impressive, Martin said, “it’s really what happens in those hours that makes the difference and tells the stories.”

In addition to their time, volunteers also helped collect financial donations and managed events that raised more than $16,700 in funds to support the Riverside Foundation and other needs in the community.

Warsaw resident Rella Voelker celebrated five years of more than 50 hours of service at the luncheon, and more than a decade of volunteer service overall. She said that her favorite part of volunteering was the close interaction with the workers and the camaraderie she has developed with other volunteers. “I enjoy the other volunteers,” Voelker said. “We volunteer on a certain day, and you get really close to your fellow volunteers. I’ve met some wonderful people that way.”

Rella Voelker, Riverside Tappahannock Hospital Volunteer

Newer volunteers at Riverside Tappahannock Hospital included Bill Johns, who celebrated his first volunteer day after retiring from the banking industry where he worked the last 40 years. He will be operating the golf cart parking lot shuttle, noting that it is one of the nice conveniences available to patients at the hospital.

Johns, who has lived in both Essex and Richmond counties, said that he was looking forward to remaining active and continuing to give back to a community that has meant so much to him over the years.

“I’m retired, and my spare time is really just wasted time, so I need to keep busy. I just want to be dedicated and help out,” Johns said.

Bill Johns, New Volunteer at Riverside Tappahannock Hospital

Luncheon guests also included Nadine Katona, a former volunteer who enjoyed her 10 years of service in admitting at Riverside Tappahannock Hospital. Now 94-years-old, Katona reluctantly had to give up volunteering last year, but still goes back to visit her former fellow volunteers and hospital staff frequently.

“It’s a marvelous place to work,” said Katona. “I can’t tell you how great they are. They’ve been wonderful to me. I can’t say enough for it.

Nadine Katona, Former Volunteer at Riverside Tappahannock Hospital

Riverside Tappahannock Hospital is accepting applications for new volunteers. Applicants can indicate their preference for a variety of positions with or without patient contact, including the surgical wait desk, shuttle driver, gift shop and other positions focused on patient comfort or communications. Hours are flexible, and applicants can choose between daytime (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.), mornings (9 a.m. to 12 p.m.) or afternoons (12 p.m. to 5 p.m.).

For more information on Riverside in Tappahannock and on the Northern Neck, or to download a volunteer application, visit For more information on Riverside, visit

Published: April 15, 2019