Kim Ahrens described the rewarding experience of serving in the Hannibal Regional Auxiliary, which honored her April 15 by naming her its Volunteer of the Year during the auxiliary's annual Service Awards luncheon at the Hannibal Country Club.

Kim Ahrens described the rewarding experience of serving in the Hannibal Regional Auxiliary, which honored her April 15 by naming her its Volunteer of the Year during the auxiliary's annual Service Awards luncheon at the Hannibal Country Club.

“Every day is an exciting day,” she said. “I tell new volunteers the thing I enjoy is every day I learn something.”

She added how happy she is “if I have given someone a smile and hope for a day.”

The Auxiliary was formed in 1993 to help patients, families and visitors in a variety of ways and contribute to the community. The Auxiliary donates approximately 25,000 hours of service each year with more than 260 members. It serves in several areas, including Judy’s Boutique, James E. Cary Cancer Center, Hannibal Children’s Center, reception desk and waiting rooms.

Ahrens was surprised to receive the award. It was especially emotional for her to hear her name announced by her son, Todd Ahrens, president and CEO of Hannibal Regional Hospital. Her other children and their families had secretly arrived in Hannibal from other states to surprise and honor her.

Before announcing her name, Todd Ahrens read a description of her life, including teaching school for 28 years. He wondered how soon the Auxiliary members would realize who was being described.

Kim Ahrens later said that though he mentioned the honoree formerly teaching school, others present are retired teachers, but “when Todd said 'French teacher' I knew it was me.”

After her name was announced, and she was surrounded by her family, she told the Auxiliary members, “I don't deserve this. Every single one of you deserves a bouquet of flowers. I thank you for all you do. And thank you for all you are. You are indeed a treasure, and we love you very much. Many people in this room deserve the honor much more than I.”

Todd Ahrens listed some of her Auxiliary services, including the reception desk, Judy’s Boutique, waiting rooms and the Caring Cup, but he said the project she enjoys the most is Project Community Connect and helping distribute hygiene bags and birthday kits.

She later explained this one-day annual event is for people in need to get involved in the community and receive services. In 2018 more than 100 birthday kits were distributed, she said.

Kim Ahrens said one favorite job is working in the Caring Cup coffee bar, because “I meet a lot of really nice people.” The coffee bar is currently closed during building renovations.

A lifelong Hannibal resident, Ahrens and her husband, Cliff, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2018. “This community is my life,” she said. “It has been good to me.”

In addition to volunteering with the Auxiliary for more than 2,200 hours and serving on its board of directors for four years, Kim Ahrens is the Recruitment and Retention Committee chairperson.

If someone is considering becoming an Auxiliary volunteer, she wants them to know, “we have something available for everyone's talent. … Even if you think you have none, there is something you can do to make someone's day a little brighter and make their way a little smoother.

“If you think you don't (have any talent), come talk to me,” Ahrens continued. “Call the hospital and ask for Volunteer Services, and I'll eventually get that call.”

Additional awards presented

The President's Call to Service Award was presented to Nancy Cruse. Cruse has been part of the Auxiliary for 19 years, serving in a variety of roles. Cruse also represents the local Auxiliary at the state level by serving on the board for the Missouri Association for Hospital Auxiliaries.

Honorary memberships which were given to Jim Mitchell, Marvin Bringer, Joan Thompson, Patty Scott and Mary Jane Wilgus.

Special recognitions were presented to Karen Sutor, Robert Bixler, Linda Lake, June Ann Piper, Gwen Wilgus and Debra Burditt.

The Auxiliary presented an Outstanding New Member award to Shirley Jackson.

Anyone who would like to help others, organize, create, cook, network and contribute to the community is invited to join the Auxiliary. For more information, visithrhonline.orgor call 573-248-5272.

bev.darr@courierpost.com