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Shropshire Recognized for Volunteer Work

By Eddy Ball
June 2007

Valeria (Vee Vee) Shropshire
Shropshire's winning smile and sincere interest in others have endeared her to children of all ages. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

On April 19, UNC Hospitals presented Industrial Hygienist Valeria (Vee Vee) Shropshire the Elaine M. Hill Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service. Shropshire, who is a member of the Health and Safety Branch team at NIEHS, has spent her Friday evenings - and many Saturday mornings - in recreational therapy with patients in the Pediatric Play Atrium for over 25 years.

Vee Vee's colleagues in the Therapeutic Recreation Program nominated her for the honor. They praised her commitment to the program, her ability to build strong and beneficial relationships with the children and her exemplary professionalism. "Week, after week, after week, Vee Vee demonstrates unwavering intent to make a positive impact in the hospital setting," wrote Therapeutic Recreational Specialist Becky White. "She has been there for the children on holidays and in inclement weather to make sure the needs of the patients and families are provided for."

When asked about her accomplishments, Shropshire responded in her typically low-key way that "it's just the right thing to do." However, her supervisor at the hospital saw things a little differently. "Vee Vee Shropshire has been the most energetic, committed, consistently compassionate volunteer that I have encountered with the UNC Hospitals program," commented Laurie Reddick, director of Recreational Therapy.

Shropshire has been the most energetic, committed, consistently compassionate volunteer that I have encountered with the UNC Hospitals program," commented Laurie Reddick, director of
Recreational Therapy.

Shropshire had not expected the award and nearly missed the banquet where she was to be honored. For her, the kids are the important thing. She plans to go to work again this Friday night - just as she has like clockwork ever since she began volunteering in 1981 as a UNC graduate student.

Elaine Hill - An Inspiration for Healthcare

Elaine M. Hill was a UNC Hospitals volunteer from the day the doors were opened in September, 1952 until she became the Director of Volunteer Services in 1967. Shropshire worked with Hill until her retirement in 1990. Eric Munson, President Emeritus of UNC Hospitals, said of Hill, "She was the moral compass or conscience of the institution. She was the self-appointed guardian, the soul of the place."

Hill had a knack for knowing what patients and their families needed and then developing the programs and finding the volunteers to meet the demand. Examples of these programs are the pediatric playroom which led to the establishment of the Department of Recreation Therapy, the patient relations program, the personal emergency response system (Lifeline and now Health Watch), the Junior Volunteer program and the interpreter service.

In recognition of her leadership, the UNC Hospitals Board of Directors in 1990 named the annual distinguished volunteer award in her honor.



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