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Altru Volunteer Ambassador| Terry's Altruism Story

Altru Volunteer Ambassador| Terry's Altruism Story

Terry Greenwood has served as a volunteer for many years. In a time of crisis, Altru was able to serve him.

Terry hadn’t missed a day’s work in 45 years. A carpenter by trade, he may have continued working indefinitely, were it not for a major surgery he required in the fall of 2017.

“I decided to retire from carpentry,” Terry says. “But then I was like, ‘Well, now what am I gonna do?’”

In the spring of 2018, Terry got his answer—coincidentally, also due to another hospital visit.

“I had gout and went to Altru for my care,” he says. “While I was at the clinic, there was a guy named Jack working as a greeter. I walked up to him and said, ‘Jack, I want your job.’ And he said, ‘Well, you can’t have it!’”

While he didn’t want to give up his job, Jack did tell Terry how he could become a part of Altru’s volunteer program. Two months later, Terry found what he was going to do during his retirement. He still serves as a volunteer greeter, known as an ambassador, to this day.

A Day in the Life of a Volunteer Ambassador at Altru

Terry Greenwood standing outside by a lamp post with an Altru sign.As an ambassador, Terry takes his responsibility very seriously. He helps direct traffic and guide patients on their journeys through the hospital. If someone requires a CT scan, Terry’s the one to take them back. He meets people from all walks of life, some of them during their darkest days.

“I always tell myself, this is serious business, and even when people are smiling, it ain’t no laughing matter,” he says. “I’ve walked people back to their CT or MRI scans while they were trembling. I’ve held people’s hands and been with them through tears. I tell every patient ‘good luck’ before their appointment.”

Terry estimates he’s said ‘good luck’ to roughly 4,000 patients. He also takes time to learn the names and faces of his coworkers, from nurses and technicians to administrative staff and hospital housekeeping. He has formed an especially close bond with two young women in the registration department, Alexis and Kelsey.

“They’re like my grandkids, those two,” Terry says. “They truly love me to this day.”

Compassion During Crisis

Terry calls himself a professional at marriage. He and his wife, Donna, were together for almost 60 years.

“We had our ups and downs,” he says. “But our biggest problem was we loved each other too much.”

In May of 2019, Donna was admitted to the hospital for dehydration caused by pain medication.

“She was trying to treat a pain in her leg, so while she was there they did a CT to figure out where the pain was coming from,” Terry says. “And then they told her she had the beginnings of pancreatic cancer.

After roughly eight months of treatment, Donna’s scans showed her to be cancer-free, but not without severe complications. During her final months, Terry cared for his wife while continuing to volunteer.

“Alexis and Kelsey used to make fun of me because my wife did everything,” he recalls. “I didn’t know how to grocery shop. I didn’t know where to buy stamps. And one day, those girls told me, ‘Terry, we’re gonna cook you two meals every week, and we’ll come clean your house if you want us to.’”

Alexis and Kelsey were not the only ones to comfort Terry, as he recalls a nurse in nuclear medicine who held him while he cried “multiple times,” as well as a woman in housekeeping who met him one day as he came into work.

“Our eyes met, and she held me in her arms for 10 minutes,” Terry says. “I couldn’t stop crying. I don’t even know her last name, but it was such a precious time.”

A Lot of Love

Donna passed away peacefully, with her husband and their four daughters by her bedside. Terry continues to volunteer, saying that the love of AltruTerry Greenwood holding a cup of coffee at the Altru registration desk. saved his life.

“If I didn’t have that job right now, I don’t know what I would do,” he says. “It gives me a purpose. I’ve got somewhere to be at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning. Volunteering has been lifechanging and lifesaving.”

Terry’s voice is strong when he talks about his volunteer role at Altru. He speaks passionately about the need for more volunteers and the difference a small bit of kindness can make.

“There’s a lot of love in that hospital,” he says. “And a little love can change a person’s life.”

Learn about volunteering at Altru.