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Volunteers Make a World of Difference

  • Category: Living Well
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Denise Chetta, Director of Volunteer Services

Touro was founded as a non-profit, faith-based hospital in 1852 by Jewish philanthropist Judah Touro. After Hurricane Katrina, Touro became the only faith-based hospital in New Orleans. This year we are recognizing a husband and wife in Pastoral Care, Jan Jordan-Buggs and Mark Buggs. These volunteers are trained in ministry and assist Chaplain Jane and Father Doug.

Jan’s Call to Serve

In May 2014, Jan and Mark began their volunteer service at Touro after attending a workshop on “Ministering to the Sick”. This workshop is a course of study for clergy and laity working in a hospital setting. Jan did not plan to participate in the workshop but was only there to accompany her husband, Mark. “I have been praying to God about what to do next. It wasn’t long into the class when I wrote across the top of the workbook: “Prayer Answered”, “says Jan. As a devoted wife and daughter, she has nursed and ministered both her husband and parents. Therefore, she has experienced in caring for those in need. She’s also a Stephen’s Minister, which is a 4 to 5 year ministry training program serving the sick, lonely and shut-ins.

Jan will tell you that a big part of her role is listening. Not everyone wants a prayer but they often want someone to talk to and to listen. “The deep listening that I do helps to heal the patient’s total well-being and it takes all of us to help someone heal,” says Jan. “Pastoral Care is about bringing God’s hope and grace to every patient’s room.” It’s not about converting anyone.

With all the time Jan spends here, she is still very active in her church, Rayne Memorial United Methodist. At Rayne, she teaches Sunday school and leads workshops on spirituality. Moreover, for 12 years, Jan is involved in Kairos, a prison ministry, which offers inmates retreats and weekly prayer meetings. Jan explained that Kairos means “God’s time.” I believe it’s fitting because Jan has devoted her entire life to serving God by serving others.

Jan drives to Touro twice a week from LaPlace, and her husband Mark drives three times a week. The Buggs are here every day, Monday through Friday. Their presence has been a huge help to Fr. Doug and Chaplain Jane because they can’t be here every day. When Jan and Mark are here, they make it a point to respond to every rapid response and every code.

Faithful in their roles, Jan and Mark are often stopped by doctors or nurses who tell them about a patient in need. They are not only comfort to patients and their families but to the staff as well. They have been called upon by staff several times to pray. When I told Jan how much I admired her for what she does, she humbly said, “We don’t want people to see us but to see God’s love through us.”

Mark’s Circle of Love

Her husband, Mark Buggs, is also an active member of Rayne Memorial’s Care Team, which visits people in nursing homes and hospitals. At Rayne, Mark saw a flyer for the “Ministry to the Sick” Workshop offered by the McFarland Institute. This workshop is a requirement for Chaplain Jane’s Pastoral Care volunteers. He had no idea that this workshop will lead him to his service at Touro. “My process is to think, pray and consider,” says Mark. But it wasn’t long before he answered the call to serve at Touro.

Mark and Jan visit patients in multiple different departments, such as Cardiovascular, Joint Replacement and Surgery. “We have developed a rapport with patients who we see many times, such as the elderly or very ill who have been hospitalized three or four times in a month,” says Marks, “Although what we do is challenging, we know they are meeting a great need, and if God calls you, he will equip you to do it.”

Mark treasures the deep conversations he’s had with total strangers here at Touro. “I always let the patient take the lead”, he says, “Most patients are very happy for the visit and extremely welcoming regardless of their religion or not wanting to pray.” Many times, in lieu of prayer, a patient may want to share their experience about their relationship with God. Mark recalls a patient sharing an entire thesis that he had written over the years about his relationship with the God. He insisted on giving Mark a copy, which Mark still has.

Through Rayne Memorial, Mark became a student of the School for Contemplative Living where he learned and developed many contemplative prayer practices, which provides him with the resources to sustain his ministry. In addition to Touro, Mark volunteers at Luke’s House, a free medical clinic described as a place of medical and spiritual hope, health and healing for the people of New Orleans. Luke’s House is a partnership of Rayne, Mt. Zion United Methodist and LSU Department of Medicine and Pediatrics Residency Program.

Mark says his ministry at Touro is truly a blessing. “I am touched when the doctors and nurses gather in a “circle of love” to pray for a patient or a family. There was also a time when only the nursing staff staff needed a prayer,” says Mark. Chaplain Jane always reminds them that the Touro staff is also in need of spiritual support for their work.

Recognition of Service

Due to Jan Jordan-Bugg and Mark Bugg’s stellar performance at Touro, they are being recognized this year as Touro’s Volunteers of the Year. This week is National Volunteer Week, and Touro held its annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon on Tuesday, April 24, during this national celebration.

National Volunteer Week is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. It’s about demonstrating that by working together we have the fortitude to meet our nation’s challenges and accomplish our goals. Thank you to Jan and Mark Bugg for their continued dedication to Touro Infirmary along with all of our wonderful volunteers!

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, call 504-897-8107 or click here to fill out an application.