Becoming Jack: How volunteering changes lives

October 02, 2019
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For much of his life, Jack Newman felt hesitant to approach people. Like a lot of us, he struggled with social situations and stuck to comfortable routines. Volunteering was one way for him to get out and connect with people.

Jack volunteered at the South Hadley Library for 36 years. Then in 2012, prompted by his job coach Lauren Hennessey, he became a volunteer at Baystate Medical Center. 

Making a Difference in the Hospital

Jack Newman  Volunteer  360 x 360 1 of 1Twice a week, he and Lauren work in the Health Sciences Library. Jack also helps with wayfinding, assisting patients and families as they navigate the hospital.  

Jack is passionate, reliable, energetic, and dedicated—all of the qualities that make a great volunteer. He’s proud to be a part of the Baystate Health family, and raves about his experience. 

One of his favorite moments was when he was asked to bring flowers and teddy bears to a patient at Baystate Children’s Hospital

“They were happy.  It was the best thing ever. My heart warmed up – I did something good. I love that feeling of making people better.” 

Last year, Jack got his pin at our volunteer recognition event for 1,000 hours of volunteering. He proudly accepted the award with tears in his eyes.

Feeling Heard

Jack isn’t just a volunteer at Baystate, he has also been a patient. 

Not feeling well one day, he visited anER near his home, where he was discharged without being treated, “they pushed me out but I wasn’t better,” Jack said. He listened to his body and decided to seek further treatment. Upon discharge, he decided to head to the Baystate Medical Center Emergency Room.

The team gave Jack the comfort he needed by saying, “We don’t know what it is yet but we won’t let you go until we figure it out together.”  Jack called Lauren and told her, “They listened to me, I feel heard.” 

After several tests, Jack was diagnosed with a vertigo attack. “It was scary, but Baystate made me better,” he shared. Jack was so impressed with the care he received that he switched all of his health needs to Baystate. 

Appreciating the Little Things 

Jack helps people in other ways, too. His refreshing and unique way of looking at the worldhad an impact with Lauren.“Jack puts life in perspective for you", she says. “You get so busy but he reminds you to appreciate the small moments.  One day he made me stop to watch a squirrel outside and said ‘think about what they are doing.’”

"It is so good to take a minute out of your busy life to appreciate the world around you and Jack is really good at that,” she said.

Becoming Jack

Lauren shared that Jack’s volunteer experience has helped him develop him into who he is today. 

“He has flourished since taking on this new role. He can now approach people comfortably. He has become more social, he is doing wayfinding – it is all new.” 
She says Jack has changed a lot in the five years she has known him. He even inspired her daughter to become a volunteer at Baystate. 

“Volunteering has just helped him become who he is – it’s bringing out the real Jack,” says Lauren.

Learn more about volunteering at Baystate Health.

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