Roni Boyd isn’t a person who likes to call a lot of attention to herself. If you ask her about her work with Methodist Medical Center’s Hospitality Houses, she’ll first divert your attention to the people she believes deserve the most credit.
“I started helping Mary Ann Halstead and Margaret Baldauf with the gardens,” Roni says. “The gardens were established by Mary Ann Halstead.”
But if credit is truly given where credit is due, Roni has her fair share coming. Having joined the team just a few years after the gardens’ creation, she has now been working outside or inside both Hospitality Houses for a total of 19 years.
“I think the houses provide an invaluable service to our guests,” Roni says, “and we have been told that time and time again.”
Many caring donors have contributed to the gardens, and many volunteers like Roni have had a hand in keeping them vibrant through the years.
Like the plants and flowers, Roni’s interest in the Hospitality Houses started small, and grew into something beautiful over time. The work was simple to begin with. She worked at what is now the Manly House where she weeded the garden, planted, and pruned.
“Gardening is always therapeutic for me,” Roni says. She enjoyed putting her hands in the good earth, but the more she worked, the more it became a labor of love.
The Hospitality Houses’ gardens were very purposefully designed with a look that gives guests a feeling of being at home, rather than the landscaped look of entering a business or an institution. The majority of flowers and plants are native to the area, and something is usually in bloom all year long.
Lenten roses appear in the winter, followed by azaleas, rhododendrons and daffodils into the spring. As summer progresses, guests are greeted by lilies, hydrangeas and butterfly bushes.
“Being a part of providing a place of tranquility and rest for people who are in crisis is rewarding,” Roni says, and she laughs as she adds, “I worked in the garden for two years before I went inside.”
Roni began helping indoors in 1999, and never looked back. While she still works in the gardens, it’s just one of many ways she contributes her time and energy.
“In any given week I might clean an apartment, restock an apartment, vacuum, mop floors, do dishes, do laundry, and clean windows,” Roni says. “I pretty much do whatever is needed.”
Would you like to volunteer?
- You can volunteer your time with hands-on duties at the Hospitality Houses. We will work to accommodate your schedule.
- You can volunteer to coordinate friends at your church, civic club or business to help with fundraising, supplies and other needs of our guests.
For more information on how you can help, please contact Kim Maes at (865) 835-4358 or KMaes@covhlth.com.
Roni might also be found helping guests check in, check out, get settled, or just giving guests a listening ear with a compassionate heart. “I enjoy getting to meet people, getting to interact with people,” she says. “The guests always come first.”
“I think it’s very important to provide people a place to stay where they’re close to their treatment,” Roni says. “They need to expend their energy on their health, not on traveling back and forth.”
Roni and her husband had a chance to be on the receiving end of that same hospitality not too long ago as their daughter underwent open heart surgery in North Carolina. The hospitality house there was a welcoming environment, and Roni was comforted by the knowledge that their needs would be provided for. It gave her a new sense of purpose when she came home.
“To have a place that is a safe environment, a clean environment, and a welcoming environment is very important,” Roni says. “It’s more than just keeping house. It’s providing that environment for the guests’ wellbeing.”
This hard working grandmother of two has no plans to slow down anytime soon. From the first plants she nurtured 19 years ago to the guests she interacts with today, Roni believes in the value of her contributions, and the mission of the Hospitality Houses.
“Being part of that offering is very meaningful to me,” Roni says.