Willard Epling and Paula Hladky of the Douglas County Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) will be recognized today for their volunteerism at the the Celebration of Volunteers party, hosted by the United Way Roger Hill Volunteer Center.
During the celebration, nominees for the Galluzzi Award and agency volunteers of the year will be honored. Willard and Paula have been MRC volunteers for more than six years. The Douglas County Medical Reserve Corps, based at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, is a community-based volunteer organization of people who wish to engage in response and public health-based volunteerism.
Volunteers from a wide range of backgrounds, not just health professionals, are needed, including interpreters, chaplains, office workers, legal advisors or those that simply want to be involved in healthy living and disaster preparedness and response. Currently, 18 MRC units are located throughout the state, including one statewide Kansas Veterinary MRC unit.
The 2009 H1N1 vaccination clinics kept Paula and Willard especially busy.
“We met practically everyone in Douglas County then,” Paula laughed, explaining that one of the best rewards of being a Medical Reserve Corps volunteer is the opportunity to meet people.
Another great benefit that volunteers receive is, “training, training, training,” as Paula puts it.
She said that being a part of the MRC is, “not only good for preparing you for things that might happen in your own homes, but your family and community as well.”
Through the program, they have learned skills that will be critical in many different types of situations. Becoming a part of the MRC also opened the door to many other organizations that they have volunteered with over the years.
"After you start, you catch the bug,” Paula explained. Their work in the MRC has led Paula and Willard to volunteer with Keep America Beautiful, the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) of Douglas County and the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center.
Paula and Willard are certainly familiar faces around the community and do absolutely everything they can to make a difference in the county they live in.
“The secret of retirement,” Paula explains, “is to appreciate what you have and to share it with others.”
Tagged: volunteers, health department, H1N1, Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, retirement, Roger Hill Volunteer Center, Medical Reserve Corps, Douglas County Medical Reserve Corps, MRC, United way, volunteer of the year, public health emergency