News release by Franciscan Health:

CROWN POINT, Indiana – Vivian Kelby has logged more than 37,500 hours volunteering at Franciscan Health Crown Point over the past 47 years.

That’s the equivalent of more than four years of her life spent in service to others. The 97-year-old woman said her motivation for volunteering is simple.

“I like being with other people,” Kelby said.

Kelby began volunteering with Franciscan Health in 1976 at St. Anthony Home in Crown Point.

“I was sewing a lot and my father-in-law said, ‘You don’t need to sit and sew all day,’” she said. “I said I wanted to work, so I started cleaning the tables during the breakfast service.”

That was the beginning of her long and continuing volunteer service with Franciscan Health. Over the years, Kelby volunteered at the information desk, in admissions and the x-ray department. She made crafts, fed patients and was in charge of other volunteers who helped with feedings.

“I liked to do the feedings,” she said.

Kelby was a member of the Junior Volunteers for 18 and a half years and a board member of the St. Anthony Medical Center Auxiliary. The former auxilians still meet for lunch regularly.

For years, she made stockings for the newborns who were born on Christmas. That eventually became babies born during Christmas week and later, throughout the month of December.

She currently volunteers every Friday afternoon in the gift shop at Franciscan Health Crown Point. In the past, she was in charge of the candy section.

“I made baby bonnets we sold here for 37 years, too,” Kelby said.

Kelby said she likes to visit with the gift shop customers, who range from patients coming in for testing to friends and family members of inpatients to hospital staff members. She often hears stories about why they are at the hospital, ranging from joyous moments like the birth of a baby, to health challenges and tragedies.

“I tell our volunteers they are the hairdressers of the hospital,” said Kim Gerenda, gift shop manager for Franciscan Health Crown Point. “They hear everyone’s stories and troubles. People need to get away from that clinical atmosphere. Even if they don’t buy anything, we served them simply by being here and lending an ear. Vivian really understands that.”

April is National Volunteer Month. Franciscan Health has nearly 200 volunteers serving at its four Northwest Indiana hospitals in Crown Point, Dyer, Michigan City and Munster. Studies have shown volunteering can reduce stress and depression, increase mental and physical activity and increase overall happiness and quality of life.

“We know that in giving, we truly receive and that the lives of our volunteers are enriched through their efforts,” said Kathleen Rudaski, manager of volunteer services for Franciscan Health Crown Point. “Volunteers make a difference each and every day through their selfless service to our healthcare ministry and those we are blessed to serve. We thank them for their service.”

Kelby, who will be 98 in May, lives independently on property adjacent to her daughters’ homes in Porter County. She said she would encourage anyone interested in volunteering to do so.

“You should join because you have so much fun with volunteering,” she said.

Franciscan Health has a variety of volunteer positions available at its Crown Point, Dyer, Michigan City and Munster hospitals. All volunteers are screened and must meet all requirements.

More information is available online at or by calling the volunteer services offices at each individual hospital location.