In his 25-year career as a volunteer – in which he has dedicated more than 30,000 hours to the hospital – Lee has worn many hats. Currently, he spends three busy mornings a week stocking coffee supplies in the hospital. He also delivers newspapers and paperwork to various hospital departments.
Staying busy is a part of Lee Sealander’s character. Growing up on a potato farm in northern Maine taught him the value of hard work. That work ethic carried into his business and family; he owned his own automotive shop for 30 years, and keeps busy with his wife, five children, 18 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.
When he retired, he found himself with more time on his hands than he was used to. It was then that a close friend of Lee’s suggested he volunteer at his community hospital – USC Verdugo Hills Hospital.
“It makes me feel wonderful. I feel like I’m doing some good for the community and for other people,” he said. “Even at my age, I can still contribute something instead of just staying home watching TV.”
In addition to volunteering three mornings a week, Lee is an avid bike rider and member of the local church. He is also the primary caretaker of his wife, who was diagnosed with dementia several years ago.
“The nurses at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital know my situation, and they’re always asking me how she’s doing,” he said. “That’s been a wonderful thing. Between the support here, my church and the people I bike with – I don’t think I could make it without all that help.”
Lee has been part of the Foothill community – living in La Crescenta – since 1959. In fact, Lee recalls meeting Keith Hobbs, current CEO of USC Verdugo Hills Hospital and a native of the Foothills community, when Keith was a child.
“Is that the Keith Hobbs that we remember?” Lee recalled saying when he learned Keith would become CEO of the hospital. “It’s been a very rewarding journey. I’d have missed a lot in my life if I hadn’t volunteered.”
Living and volunteering in the community, Lee has also seen some of his neighbors as patients of USC Verdugo Hills Hospital. He’s found it very meaningful to be able to contribute to their care.
“Most of the patients are so appreciative when you help them,” he said. “That’s another thing that makes this experience so rewarding.”
By Andrea Aldana
Established in 1972, the volunteer services department at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital attracts, retains and recognizes qualified in-service volunteers. Lee is one of more than 200 dedicated volunteers, ranging in ages from 16 to 95, who provide their time and talent as volunteers in many areas in the hospital.