The Enduring Impact of a Volunteer: Marjorie Oakey’s 30 Years at Gilchrist

April 19, 2024, Volunteers

The Enduring Impact of a Volunteer: Marjorie Oakey’s 30 Years at Gilchrist

Marjorie Oakey, a steadfast advocate, stands in the heart of Gilchrist’s remarkable volunteer program, among the 450 devoted souls who offer their time and compassion. For 30 years, Marjorie has been an integral part of the Gilchrist family, representing the spirit of selfless service and profoundly impacting the lives of those around her.

Marjorie, who is about to celebrate her 90th birthday this year, has woven the fabric of her life with the threads of volunteerism, long before it was recognized as a formal concept. Reflecting on her journey, she shares, “In my generation, volunteerism wasn’t called volunteerism—when somebody needed help in the neighborhood, you did it.” Her commitment to serving others began in the schools of her 11 children and continued to flourish as she moved from Chicago to Maryland. After her children were grown, Marjorie transitioned her volunteer efforts to GBMC and subsequently to Gilchrist, right from the moment it opened its doors.

Marjorie’s contributions at Gilchrist have been as varied as they are significant. She has done everything from administrative tasks and computer work to the simple yet profound act of making coffee. Stationed at the front desk of Gilchrist Towson for years, she was often the first point of contact for families in their most vulnerable moments. Marjorie’s warm smile and gentle greeting provided a much-needed sense of comfort and familiarity. “I felt people coming in just needed someone to have a smile on their face and say hello. When you ever have to go through an experience like that, it’s very hard emotionally,” she recalls.

The evolution of hospice care over the past three decades has not gone unnoticed by Marjorie. She has witnessed a growing awareness and a broader support system extending beyond the patients to include their families. Gilchrist’s comprehensive approach, which includes grief counselors, chaplains, and volunteers like Marjorie, ensures that no one has to navigate their journey alone. Marjorie fondly remembers a small gesture of leaving cookies and a tea bag for a grieving wife, a token of kindness that was never forgotten.

Gilchrist’s Volunteer Program

Gilchrist’s volunteer program is enriched by activities that range from offering companionship, delivering nourishing meals, and crafting memory bears to the homely act of baking cookies on-site, infusing the hospice with the comforting aroma of home-baked goods. Some volunteers have even embraced the sincere role of death doula, providing solace and support to those nearing life’s end.

Marjorie Oakey’s 30 years of volunteer service at Gilchrist is a testament to the overwhelming impact one individual can have on the lives of many. Her journey of selfless service, marked by empathy, kindness, and a deep understanding of life’s most delicate moments, continues to inspire and resonate within the Gilchrist community and beyond.

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