The Partners of the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) bestowed two awards to the Volunteers of Prairie Ridge Health and John Russell, President and CEO of Prairie Ridge Health (PRH), during the organization’s virtual state convention Oct. 5 and 6.

The Volunteers of PRH received the Partners of WHA 2021 Wisconsin Award for Volunteer Excellence in Community Outreach and Collaboration in recognition of their innovation, creativity, and leadership in the PRH Hunger Care Program.

In July of 2019, PRH and the Volunteers of PRH partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank to provide heart healthy and diabetes friendly food to food insecure individuals in the hospital’s service area. Eligible recipients are screened for food insecurity, diabetes, and heart health conditions. Recipes using items in the food package are provided each month and the Prairie Ridge Health nutrition team is available by phone to answer any questions about how to use ingredients.

Without likelihood of funding from SHFB in 2021, the Volunteers of PRH secured funding for the Hunger Care program through their annual Lights of Love.  In addition, the Volunteers of PRH assist in organizing and packaging produce for pick up, staff the monthly pick-up day at the hospital, help load the food into the vehicles, and coordinated a drive thru pick up during COVID-19 to ensure the families received the support they needed.

“The COVID-19 pandemic required creative and quick thinking to secure funding, and to ensure a no-contact distribution to decrease the risk of potential transmission. The volunteers were instrumental not only in providing funding, but in coordinating the drive-thru plan for the program.” said Rachel Selm, RDN, CD, Clinical and Community Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.

Pictured are Patti Walker, PRH Community Relations and Volunteer Coordinator, John Marks, Hunger Care Program volunteer, Rachel Selm, RDN, CD, Hunger Care Program Coordinator, Hunger Care Program volunteers Darlene Marks, Chris Schleicher and Jerry Schleicher, and John Russell, PRH President and CEO.

John Russell was nominated by the Volunteers of PRH and named the recipient of the Partners of WHA 2021 Best of the Best Administrative Award, honoring one top, on-site administrator of a Wisconsin hospital who demonstrates a cooperative, supportive, enthusiastic, and well-defined relationship with the hospital’s volunteer organization.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic our administrator wrote letters to our volunteers every few months. These letters were mailed directly to each member of our volunteer organization,” said Jolene Gill, Volunteers of PRH Chairperson. “Because there was no face-to-face contact available at that time, it kept our volunteers informed as to the decisions being made and processes taking place at the hospital. Being included as a part of the organization during a time when many of us felt alone meant so much to all of us. It was through this communication, that our volunteers were brought back to the hospital slowly beginning in June 2020 and a new greeter position at our main entrance evolved.”

Pictured are Patti Walker, PRH Community Relations and Volunteer Coordinator, Barbara Lauersdorf, PRH Volunteer and Partners of WHA Southern District President, PRH Volunteers Carol Black and Bobbi Schaefer, John Russell, Bonnie Webb, Volunteers of PRH 2nd Vice President, Diane Dhein, Volunteers of PRH Past President, Andrea Tamminga, Volunteers of PRH Treasurer, and Sherry Jelic, Volunteers of PRH Community Health Education Chair.