Why I Volunteer: Ruth White’s Time-Talent-Treasure Mission Investment

Melvin and Ruth White
Ruth and Melvin White

When Ruth White retired as director of Ascension St. Vincent’s Birmingham Emergency Department last year, she thought she had closed her 41-year chapter of “serving all persons with special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable.” However, after being asked to serve as a hospital volunteer, she remembered how her personal and professional goals were “married together” in faith-based health care. “So, just because my nursing career is over, my personal ministry doesn’t have to be over. I can still support the mission.”

White’s support includes weekly volunteering and orienting/educating volunteers. White’s service in the hospital’s information station provides other opportunities. “When I was working, I very rarely got to go to daily Mass. Now Mass is part of my on-campus routine when I come to volunteer.”

White’s next goal is to help Ascension St. Vincent’s Foundation plan a retiree reunion that re-introduces the rewards of mission involvement. “I’ve come to realize that just because someone retires professionally doesn’t mean they must retire from serving this ministry. If I worked there because of the mission, I’m not going to just stop supporting the mission because I stop being a nurse.”

White and her husband Melvin, married 42 years, also support the mission financially. Their next-generation commitment not only includes their three children (all born at Ascension St. Vincent’s) and five grandchildren, but monthly Foundation gifts and an estate gift. “Over my career I’ve seen how the Foundation has provided everything from waiting rooms to medical equipment to support through the St. Louise Associate Assistance Fund,” White says. “The Foundation supports the mission. That is why I volunteer and give.”

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