The Mass General Volunteer Department hosted its annual Pin Week celebration this week to honor its dedicated volunteers.

Pin Week was established in the early days of World War I to recognize volunteers who served in the hospital instead of on the battlefield. As time went on, Mass General continued to recognize volunteers by awarding yearly service pins.

Pins are awarded to those who have completed 100, 500, 1,000 or 10,000-plus hours of service. This year, 150 volunteers were honored, with five MGHers – Paula O’Keeffe, Bill Lauch, Peggy Scott, Lois Cheston and Karen MacDuffie – each receiving special recognition for logging more than 10,000 hours.

“My favorite part of volunteering is interacting with the families,” says Cheston, who has completed 14,170 hours of volunteering in the Gray Family Waiting Area and with the Pet Therapy program. “I try to give them a reason to smile when they're in such stressful situations.”

Elyssa Simpson, coordinator in MGH Volunteer Services, says those small moments truly make a difference.

“Whether they’re escorting a patient or offering them a snack, the smiles and little moments volunteers share with our patients are the memories that stay with them and their families for a lifetime,” Simpson says. “The volunteers’ support, positivity and helping hands make our patients feel acknowledged and safe.”

O’Keeffe, who has completed 13,119 service hours in the Emergency Department, says she too enjoys the sense of community that comes with being a volunteer.

“The people I get to know are my favorite part,” she says. “It feels like home here. I’m also a medical enthusiast, so being around medicine is interesting, too.”

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