LEXINGTON, S.C. — When Pat Hoover, 94, left Sidney earlier this year to move to her daughter’s house in Lexington, South Carolina, it had been some time since she had retired as a volunteer for Wilson Memorial Hospital.
Between 1984 and 2010, however, Hoover gave the healthcare facility 5,514 hours as a receptionist at the front lobby desk and in the surgical waiting area.
Now, she’s bedridden and under hospice care, but she’s volunteering again to help hospital patients.
“I have gotten her involved in a group, Hearts and Hands,” said her daughter, Cynthia Culp, by phone from Lexington. “We make blankets and surgical hats for children going into surgery. Mother works from her bed. She’s on her fourth blanket.”
Hoover enjoys the activity.
“Every time I make one, it makes me feel like it’s a great accomplishment. I’m tickled to death to be able to do it,” Hoover said. Before the blankets are delivered to the hospital, they go to the Boiling Springs United Methodist Church, where Hearts and Hands is based. The minister there blesses the blankets. That minister says Hoover is an inspiration to others in the congregation.
“She’s on medication. She has good days and bad days, but by gosh she works on that blanket. She’s the one who keeps me going, too. I’m very proud of my mother,” her daughter said.
Hoover got the volunteering bug from her mother, Etoile Paddock, who knitted things for charity and taught Hoover to knit. The blankets Hoover makes now are fleece. Because her hands are crippled with arthritis, she uses a device designed to pull buttons through buttonholes to attach pieces to the blankets.
“Sometimes she can hardly hold it, but she keeps doing it,” Culp said.
A Sidney native, Hoover graduated from Sidney High School in 1941 and married L. Wayne Hoover in 1946. She assisted him in his business, Hoover Sales and Service, an antique car restoration firm.
As she was raising their daughter and a son, Gregory Wayne Hoover, now of Columbus, she volunteered as a Cub Scout and Brownie Scout leader. In the 1960s and ’70s, she knitted blankets, hats and mittens for distribution by the Salvation Army and she was a member of community service sorority Beta Sigma Phi.
It was a friend who encouraged her to join the Wilson Auxiliary.
“At that time, we had to be sponsored by two members. They don’t do that anymore. I just loved that volunteer work out there,” Hoover said. Doctors and nurses were always particularly nice to her, she added.
“I remember her as being elegant, on time, efficient,” said Mindy Geuy, volunteer coordinator for Wilson Health, who had not been long on the job when Hoover retired. “My volunteers are all really, really good and dedicated to Wilson, and she was, too.”
Besides making blankets for Hearts and Hands, Hoover has donated her wedding dress for another project.
“The dresses are taken apart and from them are created burial gowns for children and (babies born prematurely) who die,” Culp said. Hoover was heart-broken when she heard about the children.
“I wish there was something I could do,” the nonagenarian said.
“Mother, there is,” Culp told her. “We want people to know that life goes on and service needs go on. Even when you’re confined to your bed, you can still have an active life.”
Some 25 to 30 gowns will be made from Hoover’s dress. The woman who will make them will also craft some roses from the fabric for Culp to keep.
“When we have my mother’s funeral in Sidney, those roses will be on the table there,” Culp said.
That funeral may not be as soon as the family had thought it might be. Volunteering seems to have had a good effect on Hoover’s health.
“I only have 35 percent of my heart function. I came to my daughter’s to die, but she’s making me well. My blood pressure is where it should be,” Hoover laughed.
She would love to hear from old friends. Notes and cards can be sent to her at 130 Roost Court, Lexington, SC 29073.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.