Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

July 25, 2019
Giving Back

Retired Mountain West Medical Center volunteers Reva Peterson and Shirley Norton say giving back to the community creates joy and ‘work can be good for the soul’ 

Reva Peterson, 91, and Shirley Norton, 93, have seen a lot of change in their lives. But one constant has been people helping one another. 

Both women volunteered at Mountain West Medical Center through the hospital’s Our Healthy Circle program, and found that volunteering gave them enjoyment and more purpose to their lives.

Peterson volunteered for 16 years in the hospital’s gift shop, retiring last year to help care for her grandchildren.

“The hospital is kind of like a big family,” she said. “Especially the volunteers!”

There are volunteers at MWMC for several needs — front desk, waiting areas and gift shop, to name a few. 

Both Peterson and Norton worked in the gift shop.

Volunteers there work a four-hour shift on their own, serving as cashier, stocker and customer service. They also do inventory twice a year. 

Each volunteer works at least one four-hour shift weekly. 

The gift shop stocks cards, convenience items and small gifts for patrons or hospital employees to purchase.

Diane Johnson, manager of MWMC’s volunteer program, has high praise for the volunteers.

“Last year our volunteers collectively donated nearly 10,000 hours to Mountain West Medical Center,” she said in an email. “They are a vital part of our team providing great care to our community members.”

Norton joined the volunteer crew after 38 years of working as a bookkeeper for Tate Mortuary in Tooele. 

She retired from the mortuary and joined MWMC’s Our Healthy Circle program, which was then called Senior Circle, and discovered the hospital’s volunteering opportunities. 

After an interview, Norton accepted a volunteer job job in the hospital gift shop. She worked once a week for six years until her retirement last year at 93.

Norton said that being a volunteer has helped her create more friendships. 

“I’m not a very outgoing person,” she said. “I don’t go … strike up the conversation and things like that. I didn’t really have to there, because everyone was so friendly.”

After six years of volunteering, Norton retired. She now spends her time doing all of her own cooking, cleaning and shopping, keeping up on the news and national politics, and spending time with her family.

“I’m really grateful for my family,” she said. 

Norton has four children, 10 grandchildren, and enough great-great grandchildren that she has a hard time keeping track of them all. She said that her retirement has given her more time to spend with her family.

Two of Norton’s four children died young. A son passed away in a car accident when he was 20 years old. 

“If I had to give anyone some advice, it would be to spend time with their family,” she said. “Because you don’t know how long you’ll be able to.”

Her family means a lot to her. Photos of each and every child and grandchild cover the walls and tables in her home.

Norton values the time she had working in the gift shop.

“At my age, I was making mistakes and there were things I wasn’t doing right,” she said. “I met a lot of lovely ladies that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.”

Those lovely ladies included Peterson, who was also a volunteer at the gift shop.

Peterson volunteered for 16 years, retiring at 91 to help care for her grandchildren. She also discovered the opportunity through Our Healthy Circle, which she joined after moving to Tooele to live with her son, Jerry Wiseman.

“People used to come in all the time to see Reva,” Wiseman said of his mother. “She ran quite a good store!”

“I enjoyed being there,” Peterson said. “There were slow times when I could just sit and read … and it was a lot more than just helping customers, a lot more.”

Peterson, unlike Norton, is extroverted. 

“I was outgoing in school,” she said. “I was a cheerleader for a couple years … I liked being with people.”

After moving from Provo to Tooele, Peterson found that she couldn’t just sit at home. She joined Our Healthy Circle and began volunteering. Peterson also contributed time to service as an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“I try to keep myself busy so I don’t just become an old lady!” Peterson said with a laugh.

Peterson, much like Norton, is independent. She drives herself everywhere and does all of her own cooking and cleaning in her apartment, which is an addition above her son’s home.

Before retiring, Peterson volunteered two to four days a week, up to around 500 hours yearly. She would also go on trips or to events with Our Healthy Circle. 

Now, Peterson keeps herself busy by taking care of her family, of which she has many: 35 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren and another on the way.

She reads historical fiction novels and does 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzles at a rate of one or two per week.

One thing Peterson loves is technology. 

“I’ll tell you, a lot of changes have been made in my life … and I love it,” she said. “I love all the inventions. I like being on the computer. I like being on Facebook. I don’t know what I’d do without my phone. I used to dream, when I was young, of being able to talk to people as I was traveling or doing something, and now I can do it.”

The two gift shop volunteers agree on one thing in particular — work can be good for the soul.

“I just enjoyed working, I enjoyed volunteering,” Peterson said. “It got me out of the house. And Sunday night I’d be thinking, ‘Oh, I’ve got to get up in the morning. I’ve got to be ready for work!’ It was nice to have that feeling, and to go in and have people you could say good morning to. It was great.”

“It was a very nice experience,” Norton said with a smile. “I’m glad I was able to do it.”

Although the world has changed a lot in over 90 years, both women have kept a positive outlook and continued serving their community. 

Peterson said that volunteering has helped keep her young.

“Volunteer if you can,” she said. “It keeps you young, and it’s wonderful to be around people. Don’t stay home in your rocking chair. Try to get out.”

Persons who are interested in volunteering at MWMC can call Diane Johnson at 435-843-3691 or send email to Diane_K_Johnson@Quarumhealth.com.

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