AARP COVID-19 Volunteer Award

Selflessly Serving during COVID-19

The South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS) and Audie L. Murphy Memorial VA Hospital is proud to highlight the hard work and dedication of our volunteer Barbara Abbey as an organizational key player throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Barbara comes to us from Cherry Creek, New York, every November, but works as many hours as other volunteers who are here year-round. Once in San Antonio, she works Monday through Friday, at least 9 hours a day and in the past 2 years has not missed a day we haven’t forced her to take. Barbara has already volunteered 1,000+ hours this year alone.

Due to COVID-19 she had to temporarily postpone her return trip and jumped right into action assisting STVHCS. During this unprecedented pandemic she took a front seat in keeping our staff and Veterans safe. As STVHCS confronted the pandemic there was a call for staff to assist with screening at all hospital entrances.

Barbara volunteered immediately and in the first weeks she screened 12-hour days covering various entrances and shifts, including the night shift. This critical assignment protected our staff and Veterans and leveraged staff to continue seamlessly caring for Veterans. After assisting with screening, she jumped in to assist with staff meal deliveries. We’ve been very fortunate to receive tremendous community support with meal donations for our healthcare workers. However, as the pandemic grew, so did restrictions on food deliveries to our facility. We had to be innovative in our approach to get the generously donated meals to our staff. We creatively organized an off-site drop off for all donated meals. Without fail, Barbara served as the pick-up and delivery POC for community-donated meals destined for COVID-19 staff. With a full schedule of sponsored meals and, on many days, double deliveries, Barbara assisted in getting over 4,000 meals to our staff. Each trip she made meant she had to be screened herself, but she never complained. Whatever it took to get these meals to our exhausted front-line clinicians, Barbara did it. Many times, she even delivered meals to staff at other clinics throughout the city. We could not have done this without her unwavering dedication to serve 24/7. Barbara is not a Voluntary Service asset – she’s an organizational asset. Her service goes well beyond any expectations we can have in our volunteers. We are all grateful for Barbara and her selflessness, dedication and commitment. Her sacrifices on behalf of our staff and Veterans without regard to her own vulnerabilities are unmatched and unasked for; she volunteers cheerfully and readily because it is in her heart and because she knows she is not just making a difference in our Veterans’ lives, she is changing their lives for the better. It is inspiring to see Barbara united with staff and serving on the front lines in the fight of our lives against COVID-19 by doing whatever is needed. Showing our love for her hard work is the least we can do. Please join us in recognizing Barbara’s heroic service to Veterans and to Los  Padres Prostate Cancer Foundation which will receive a $1000 donation in her name.