JACKSON, Miss.—Volunteers at Methodist Rehabilitation Center assist staff, comfort patients and even help fund neuroscience research at the Jackson hospital. Each year the profits from the hospital’s volunteer-run gift shop are donated to the Wilson Research Foundation.
This year, the volunteers raised $13,000 that will be used by the Foundation to fund research into ways to improve recovery from spinal cord and brain injuries, stroke and other neurological diseases and disorders.
“This donation will have a meaningful and long-lasting impact,” said Mark Adams, president and CEO of Methodist Rehab. “Our researchers at the Center for Neuroscience and Neurological Recovery are working to bridge the gap between biomedical discoveries and their clinical application, bringing laboratory research closer and more quickly to our patients.”
Since its opening in 1995, the gift shop has become a place where patients can—if only for a while—feel like they’re not in a hospital. Terri McKie, the shop’s manager and only paid employee, sees that shelves are stocked not just with everyday necessities, but also with unusual extras like beanie babies, compact discs by local artists and hand-made jewelry.
But it’s the volunteers who really make it special, McKie says. “Some of them have been with me since the shop opened,” she said. “The fact that their work helps fund research is the reason they keep coming back every year. And our customers know the money made from their purchase will directly affect research and the lives of our patients.”
More than 100 people volunteer at Methodist Rehab and 22 of them work in the shop.
“They’re the greatest people in the world,” said volunteer director Sandra Walker. “They’re here because they want to be and they have the time and desire to do it. Raising this money each year is just another example of why they’re so vital to the work being done here at the hospital.
The gift shop also houses an art gallery for artists with disabilities. Each year, artists from across Mississippi display their work in the shop.
The Wilson Research Foundation was established in 1989 after the H.F. McCarty Jr. Family Foundation and McCarty Farms donated $740,000 to honor the contributions that Earl and Martha Wilson have made to the physically disabled in Mississippi. For more information or to make a contribution to rehabilitation research, go online to www.wilsonresearchfoundation.org or call (601) 981-2611 or 1-800-223-6672.