Wonderful to help people

For the past 18 years, visitors to the Johnson Memorial Hospital could count on being greeted by the same smiling face.

Betty Blakely has happily sat at the hospital’s information desk, pointing out where people can find their loved ones’ room, their doctor’s office or a common space such as the cafeteria.

She delivers newspapers to people who can’t get out of their rooms. People looking to purchase a card, inspirational knick-knack or balloons often see Blakely at the gift shop.

“Sometimes you can tell a person is really upset, and if you can help them find the department they need or where their family is, that’s a blessing to me,” she said.

Blakely, 91, estimates she has amassed 12,411 volunteer hours over her lifetime. She has donated time at the Johnson County Public Library, the Franklin United Methodist Community and Johnson Memorial Hospital.

Her work has made her the ideal recipient for the annual Golden Hoosier Award.

“It was exciting and unexpected to be honored that way,” she said. “I was so glad I was here for it. They often do these kinds of recognitions after you’re gone, but it’s been nice to be around here.”

Blakely started volunteering more than 50 years ago, through her membership in the Beta Sigma Phi service sorority. Members were asked to donate one four-hour shift each month at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio.

She ended up spending 20 years at Miami Valley Hospital. When she moved to Franklin, one of her first priorities was finding a new place to volunteer.

“I knew I wanted to volunteer,” she said. “I enjoy what I’m doing. All of the departments are so wonderful to me.”

Blakely has become an integral part of the Johnson Memorial Hospital community. They know when she’s working, and she seems to recognize every doctor and nurse who passes by.

When the weather is rainy or cold, fellow volunteers have a shuttle waiting in the parking lot to help her get to the main building.

During her many years of volunteering, Blakely points to countless interactions with the staff, patients and other volunteers that has made her experience so enjoyable.

She found it hard to pinpoint one or two memories that stick out. But it’s the culmination that has made her service such an important part of her life.

“I just enjoy being over there,” she said. “I get to be out and talk with people. You get to meet new people, and help those who need help. It really is wonderful.”

The Blakely File

Betty Blakely

Age: 91

Home: Franklin

Volunteer opportunities: Volunteered for 18 years at Johnson Memorial Hospital, Johnson County Public Library and Franklin United Methodist Community; spent more than 20 years volunteering at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio.

Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rtrares@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2727.