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Emanuel volunteers dedicate over 30 years to hospital
Emanuel volunteers
Ethel Nicholson (left) and Lucy Honnette take a break at the information desk as they help guide visitors and patients at Emanuel Medical Center. They have been volunteers for over 30 years. - photo by MAEGAN MARTENS / The Journal

Ethel Nicholson remembers things were a bit different at Emanuel Medical Center back in 1976 when she first started volunteering at the local hospital. The 92-year-old remembers a small secretary desk in the front lobby and only a handful of volunteers.

Now she sits behind a white counter as she helps guide visitors and patients as one of about 800 volunteers.

“You’re not just here to put in your time,” Nicholson said. “There are many different things you can do here to help out your fellow man. That is the secret.”

Lucy Honnette has been Nicholson’s partner in volunteering at Emanuel for over 30 years.

Honnette started out as a registered nurse at Emanuel and after she retired she decided to come back as a volunteer helping out at the information desk, giving pediatric tours, helping with the cafeteria menus for patients and assisting with the Volunteens program.

Nicholson’s main priority is working the information desk every Monday for four hours, but she has also helped out at the gift shop, Volunteens program and hospital tours.

After 30 years of volunteering together, they like to refer to themselves as Ethel and Lucy from the “I Love Lucy” TV show.

Not only has their friendship kept them volunteering for over 30 years, but the passion to help people is what keeps them putting on their pink uniforms every morning.  

“Never two days are the same,” Nicholson said. “I want to help people and reach out to people. I am a people person.”

Honnette shares the same passion for others.

“I enjoy people,” she said. “That’s why I was a nurse — to help people. It’s all part of the package.”

They both work together at the information desk on Mondays and plan to continue volunteering for quite some time.

“I am going to stay here as long as the Lord gives me the strength to do so,” Honnette said.

With Nicholson’s 34 years under her belt as an Emanuel volunteer, she has seen plenty of people come and go with some big changes as the hospital continues to grow.

The biggest change she has seen so far is the new Emanuel Cancer Center that was established in 2007.

Through the changes — and the decades — both Nicholson and Honnette have been angelic presences at Emanuel Medical Center.

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.