Every time Shelia Hargrave of Malone returns to Alice Hyde Medical Center, it’s a homecoming.
Hargrave, a Malone native who moved back to the village in 2012 after three decades of living in the Massena area with her husband, has spent much of her life as a member of the Alice Hyde family. Her mother, Pauline King, worked for 20 years in the hospitals Central Service department and as a certified nurse assistant, and left Shelia with a strong sense of what it means to be connected to Alice Hyde.
“I can tell you everything about the old hospital — even the doctors we had,” said Hargrave. “I think it’s important to support your hospital. This is where you bring your family if someone is ill, and everybody is so kind and caring. They take the time to listen.”
And so support Alice Hyde Hargrave does. For nearly a decade she’s dedicated much of her time to volunteering in different offices and departments around the hospital — doing everything from answering phones at the then-newly launched Dental Clinic to serving for two years (2015-17) as president of the hospital’s auxiliary board.
If you ask Hargrave why she spends so much time at Alice Hyde, she’ll be short and sweet about it.
“My roots are here; I have friends and family here. I do it because I think the hospital is important to the community, and I just enjoy helping people,” said Hargrave. “It’s just the pleasure of seeing them smile.”
Most recently the retired financial professional has served as a volunteer at The Alice Center, where she relishes giving residents an outlet for socializing — as well as a chance for a little bit of retail therapy. Hargrave served as a member of the committees that founded the Center’s gift shop, and she’s also responsible for conceiving and running the gift cart that makes its rounds every Tuesday, to make sure those who miss the shop’s limited hours or have trouble getting around have a chance to see what knick-knacks are available to add to their collections.
“Even if they don’t buy anything, you just listen to them. You can just tell that they are so pleased to have someone to talk to,” said Hargrave. “That’s the point: they see that cart coming and perk up.”
For Hargrave, rubbing shoulders with residents at the Center is a never-ending source of pride and joy, and building connections with her fellow volunteers strengthens her connection to the hospital and community that have played such large roles in her life.
“The comradery and satisfaction knowing that you’re helping the community is what keeps me involved,” she said. “I always said when I retired I wanted to volunteer, and I’ve found the perfect way to help the community I love and the hospital that has meant so much to me and my family.”