Sparrow volunteers recognized for service milestones

Published: May 19, 2015

Martha Freeman is congratulated for 55 years of volunteer service by Sparrow President and CEO Dennis Swan.

Fifty-five years ago, Martha Freeman was a young mother who started spending her free time bringing magazines, stationary, candy, and other items to Patients on the Sparrow Gift Shop’s mobile cart. Over the next 55 years, her skills as a buyer helped the gift shop to be successful and on the cutting edge. But most of all, she was proud of the impact those efforts had on people’s lives.

“It is exciting to think about what this little gift shop produces and how many lives we touch,” said Freeman, a Lansing resident. “It was so gratifying to see the joy that a wrapped package brings to Patients and visitors. People were very appreciative.”

Now 78, she is no longer able to staff a Gift Shop shift but she still attends planning and marketing meetings as part of the Gift Shop team.

That kind of dedication and enthusiasm is a hallmark of all 187 Sparrow volunteers who were honored for reaching service milestones at the annual meeting of the Sparrow Women’s Hospital Association.

Marjorie Clemetsen of East Lansing, Delores Lentz of Haslett, and Janice Ruppert of Bath were each recognized for 45 years of service.

Delores Lentz was honored for 45 years of volunteer service.

Lentz volunteers in the Mary Magdalen League gift shop at the Sparrow St. Lawrence campus and also served on the St. Lawrence Auxiliary Board from 2003-2004.

Ruppert, who volunteers in the Surgical Lounge, began her career as a candy striper in 9th grade and over the years has performed various volunteer duties including taking a library cart around to Patients.

Janice Ruppert was honored for 45 years of volunteer service.

Clemetsen, a gift shop volunteer who described her time at Sparrow as “joyful,” often took on additional shifts when fellow volunteers were on vacation or gone for the winter. Clemetsen was out of town and unable to attend.

The Women’s Hospital Association also welcomed new Women's Board of Managers member Marion Brooks Bryant, a special consultant with BCFI-Building Child & Family Initiatives.

All are part of a time-honored tradition that began when the volunteer Women’s Hospital Association founded what would later become Sparrow Hospital in 1896.

"We will be successful going forward if we can continue to rely on our volunteers 24/7 as we have done since March 18, 1896," said Sparrow President and CEO Dennis Swan. "That's a very long time indeed, and they are our most effective public relations arm."

Those interested in volunteering at Sparrow may call our Volunteer Services Department at 517.364.3606, ext. 5, or visit