Volunteer treasured at Walton
By Nikasha Dicks| Staff Writer
Thursday, January 21, 2010

Naomi Monge isn't a stranger to Walton Rehabilitation Health System. She has been there from its beginning.

She first got involved through her husband, Bill, who was on the organization's first board of directors.

"I started volunteering in the gym to help the therapists with patients, and I did that for a long time," she said. "Then they needed someone in the gift shop, and that's where I went."

When the gift shop closed, she wanted to remain involved in some way and so decided to make what she calls TLC pillows.

"I had made the pillows for friends who went to the hospital, and they always loved them," she said. "That gave me the idea for this."

Monge makes about 120 TLC pillows a year, including some for children with brain injuries who attend Camp to Be Independent.

A handwritten note attached to each pillow reads: "Made for You by Naomi Monge, WRH Volunteer, Because We Care. Get Well Soon."

"I like knowing that it's going to make some moments easier," she said. "It also tells them that someone cares. Everyone here does care, but this is just something that says we care a lot."

Monge and her family also donated funds to create the Bill Monge Horticultural Center in memory of her husband, who died in 2003. It's at the Walton West Transitional Center.

"It's really neat," she said. "I'm always amazed at how many plants are there and how well it's run. I like seeing how much the patients enjoy getting their hands in the dirt."

Leslie Glass, THE vice president of development, met Monge while planning the dedication ceremony for the greenhouse, she said.

"I had an instant bond with her," she said. "She has such a big heart for her community. I have tremendous respect for her. As a matter of fact, a co-worker and I say all the time that we want to be just like her when we grow up."

When Monge isn't volunteering with Walton, she's volunteering elsewhere.

She reads The Augusta Chronicle on the Georgia Radio Reading Service, a nonprofit program for the blind and print-impaired, and volunteers at the Master's Table soup kitchen, the Friedman Branch Library, and her church, the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection.

"It adds a little something to your life," Monge said of volunteering. "I think those of us who volunteer get more in return because it makes you feel good to be needed and to help others. I couldn't imagine not volunteering."

Reach Nikasha Dicks at (706) 823-3336 or nikasha.dicks@augustachronicle.com.

is the Volunteer of the Month for January. Mrs. Monge is a volunteer with Walton Rehabilitation Health Systems.

From the Thursday, January 21, 2010 edition of the Augusta Chronicle
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