Multifaceted Volunteer Transforms Healthcare and Community Support

Daily Point of Light # 7852 Jul 10, 2024

Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree Dyanna Thresher. Read her story, and nominate an outstanding volunteer or family as a Daily Point of Light. 

For more than 15 years, Dyanna “Dy” Thresher has provided extensive volunteer service at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital (NVRH). Her multifaceted contributions range from providing Reiki, a complementary therapy aimed at improving patient well-being, to supporting critical hospital operations and community health initiatives. Dy’s unwavering commitment and extensive volunteer efforts have profoundly impacted the hospital and the broader community. 

In 2009, Dy was retiring from her job and thought she’d like to volunteer her skills at the hospital. “I have very few hobbies because I worked all my life,” she said. “I’ve worn many hats. When I retired, I knew I had to do something. I started with food distribution because our CEO had put out a memo asking people if they’d like to volunteer. I didn’t know you could volunteer for the food bank, so I started doing that. Eventually, after getting connected through my primary care provider, I ended up at the hospital, which is my happy place.”

Dyanna has volunteered in a plethora of capacities at NVRH. She played a vital role in ensuring the safety of staff through N95 mask fit testing. Trained during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she has administered fit tests to over 700 staff members, including new hires. This essential task has allowed clinical staff to focus on providing quality patient care while ensuring their own protection. 

Dyanna also serves as a Reiki provider in the Cancer Center, offering calming sessions to patients undergoing chemotherapy. She spearheaded the establishment of the hospital’s Reiki program in 2013. As the lead Reiki provider and trainer, Dy has administered over 11,991 Reiki sessions to patients, staff and family members. Her dedication has helped integrate Reiki into various hospital departments, including the Medical Surgical floor, Day Surgery Unit and Emergency Department.

“It gives me so much joy being at the hospital and working with patients,” says Dy. “Before I started, I had no empathy at all. Now, every week, I’m asking myself where this empathy came from. It gives me such a good feeling to be working at the hospital. Being appreciated by a hospital is a very rewarding thing too. They treat us volunteers very, very well.”

Dy puts together COVID Test kits, a crucial responsibility during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dyanna’s volunteerism extends beyond the hospital walls. She actively participates in the Veggie Van Go program, a partnership with the Vermont Food Bank, which delivers fresh food to community members through a drive-thru model. Dy was also instrumental in launching the Health Care Share program, distributing fresh food to local residents during its inaugural year. 

During the pandemic, Dyanna joined the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), a group of healthcare-experienced volunteers who were permitted to serve in hospital settings when other volunteers were not. Dy provided crucial support at NVRH by screening employees at the security door and assisting in rooming patients at a busy family practice. Her service through the MRC ensured that essential healthcare services continued smoothly during a challenging time. 

Dyanna’s commitment to community health doesn’t stop there. She also serves as a volunteer for Red Cross Blood Drives hosted at NVRH, regularly assisting with donor registration – ensuring that blood drives run efficiently and that donors are well-prepared for their contributions. 

“The most rewarding part is just making the patients feel comfortable,” Dy reflects. “I go in and chit-chat with a lot of them. Some patients, I may be in there with them for half an hour. Before I started this work, I was never really a giving person. Ever since I’ve been at the hospital, I don’t get grumpy anymore!” 

Throughout her extensive volunteer career, Dyanna has dedicated over 7,118 hours to NVRH, averaging 40 to 80 hours per month. Her contributions have provided a sense of calm and healing for patients and staff alike. Whether through Reiki sessions, fit testing, food distribution or blood drives, Dy’s presence is a testament to the vital role volunteers play in healthcare settings. 

“A person who volunteers can do so much good, particularly at the hospital,” Dy says. “We’re so appreciated there, and it’s a fun job. I encourage my friends who retire to come volunteer there. It’s so rewarding, working with people who don’t feel good and helping them feel better. If you want to volunteer, just go for it! I never thought I’d be this content in my life. I’ve amazed myself with how much my empathy has grown. It’s all because of volunteering.” 

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Dyanna? Find local volunteer opportunities. 

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