Shriners Hospital volunteer Mickey Vukovich was awarded the Doug Busath Lifetime Achievement Award at the Northern California hospital’s volunteer recognition ceremony on April 12. The award is presented annually to a hospital volunteer to honor dedication, commitment and joyful service to patients, families and the entire hospital community. It is named in honor of Doug Busath who volunteered in the hospital’s Central Activity Area for 10 years after his grandson was treated at Shriners for severe burn injuries sustained in an automobile accident.
Ms. Vukovich, winner of the 2016 lifetime achievement award, is affectionately known by staff as Mickey. “Is Mickey here today?” is a familiar refrain heard throughout the hospital as many hospital departments have come to rely on her skills, knowledge and abilities.
“Mickey is an exceptional person who epitomizes the spirit of volunteerism,” says Lillian Nelson, who manages the hospital’s volunteer program. “She is so devoted to her work and helping others that we worried she may not leave her post to attend the awards ceremony!”
On Tuesdays, Mickey travels nearly 200 miles round trip from her home in Walnut Creek to the Shriners Hospital in Sacramento to help with a variety of projects, from mailings, to prevention education and career handouts. She does all this while serving as a hostess to families in the surgery waiting area, making them comfortable while they await word from their child’s doctor.
Mickey began her hospital volunteer service in 1999 as a member of the PROS (Public Relations Outreach Squad), a team of volunteers that assisted with meetings, luncheons and events to raise awareness about the then-new Northern California Shriners Hospital. Mickey also is an active member of the Daughters of the Nile, a woman’s organization within the Shrine that works to support Shriners Hospitals through sewing projects and monetary donations.
A retired high school teacher, Mickey set her sights on volunteering at Shriners Hospitals for Children when she moved to California in 1970. “When I first moved to California my brother-in-law told me stories about his stay at Shriners Hospitals for Children in San Francisco. I said at that time that when I retired, I was going to volunteer at the hospital. My statement was overheard by a member of Daughters of the Nile, and shortly after, I was invited to join Daughters of the Nile. Before I retired, our San Francisco Hospital was closed and moved to Sacramento,” Mickey said.
Determined to volunteer at Shriners Hospitals for Children, Mickey literally chose to drive the distance. We can’t say exactly how many miles she has logged traveling back and forth from her home to the hospital, but we know it is thousands. Most of all, we know Mickey’s commitment is driven by a desire to help others that rests deep in her heart.