For over 35 years, Barbara Townsend has been volunteering in St. Petersburg Free Clinic’s Health Center. She faithfully staffs the intake desk in the Health Center, welcoming patients and answering the phone with a kind word and a listening ear.
Barbara first learned about St. Petersburg Free Clinic while studying Human Services at St. Petersburg Junior College. Sister Margaret, former Free Clinic Executive Director, visited Barbara’s class and spoke about the work and services of St. Petersburg Free Clinic. The conversation planted a seed. When it came time to seek a location to volunteer, the Free Clinic was already top of mind.
Barbara is also an advocate for the Free Clinic in the community, especially with her fellow Salty Sisters – St. Petersburg Yacht Club’s sailing women’s group. Each year, Barbara encourages the Salty Sisters’ donation of cash and toiletries to the Free Clinic.
After three decades of volunteering, Barbara’s caring and energy for the patients has not waned. “It’s very fulfilling; I like to make people feel good,” Barbara says of why she has volunteered for so long. “I ask how they are; let them share their stories. I’m a good listener.” She is committed to helping others and has found that the Free Clinic is really good at directly helping those in need.
Barbara has done all kinds of jobs – from charting to answering the phone to general administration tasks involving patients and health care providers. She never hesitates to jump in where needed. She even helped with the move when the Free Clinic relocated to the Sanderlin Center and then back again to the 3rd Avenue location.
Quiet and unassuming, Barbara isn’t one to ‘toot her own horn.’ Yet her calm, quiet and consistent presence brings comfort to the patients she sees, and she is considered by staff to be a member of the team.
The truth is Barbara finds joy in helping others.
Every Thursday, she faithfully reports to her post at the intake desk of the Health Center, taking a few moments to help each patient – to listen and to hear their stories. She is part of the compassionate care provided in the Health Center and an important part of St. Petersburg Free Clinic’s history.
Thanks to the many faithful volunteers, like Barbara, who commit to give of their time. Thank you for giving so deeply to those who need it most.
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