Ways to Give Back this Holiday Season

The Touro Infirmary Foundation

With the end of the calendar year fast approaching, we find ourselves on the doorstep of the holiday season, one marked by a distinct spirit of giving. This is a time to celebrate our loved ones by giving them personal and thoughtful gifts, but it is also a time to give back to our community. Empowering others to pay it forward is very important to us here at the Touro Infirmary Foundation, so we offer you a few ways to express your gratitude to our New Orleans community that will make an impact and ensure that we start off on the right foot as we walk together into the new year.

Food Bank Volunteering

Food has the distinct ability to bring people together, especially during the holiday season. Help others share the happiness that comes from a meal served with love by volunteering your time to a local food bank. Check out organizations such as Second Harvest Food Bank or New Orleans Food Pantry. Any type of volunteering during is impactful and not just during the holidays. If food bank volunteering is not for you, considering volunteering at a hospital such as Touro Infirmary.

Toy Donation

Here’s a way to give back, while also cleaning out your children’s toy chest! There are countless organizations around the city that accept new and gently used toy donations, and what better way to show that you care while putting smiles on the faces of our community’s youngest residents?  Consider donating to Children’s Hospital.

Nursing Homes

Offer both your presents, and your presence to a nursing home in your area. Help with meal distribution, hang decorations, and chat with residents to make them feel included and cared for by fellow members of their community. Consider volunteering at Woldenberg Village by contacting Rita Austin at 504-367-5640.


Time is always a gift to those who receive it. Since time is a luxury and not always available, financial gift giving in any amount is another option to give back this time of year. The age old saying that “no amount is too small” is truer today than ever. Friend raising and micro giving are making great impacts in people’s lives all over the world. Consider supporting the Touro Infirmary Foundation this Giving Tuesday. Donations to the Touro Infirmary Foundation support the purchase of vital equipment, help fight transportation barriers for cancer care patients, support new parents with education classes, and so much more. Visit www.touro.com/give and direct your donation to an area of healthcare that is meaningful to you.

While exchanging gifts with your loved ones can be a wonderful holiday tradition, nothing can compare to the feeling of joy you get from giving back. We hope you are inspired to get involved in your community this season, and wish you Happy Holidays from our Touro Infirmary family!


Why I Volunteer

Mel Tilling, Touro Infirmary Volunteer

I volunteer for a number of reasons. The main reason is that I truly like helping people. Making someone’s life happier or easier is very rewarding for them as well as for myself. Giving your time is priceless. The Golden Rule has always motivated me.

Becoming part of your community is a good reason to volunteer. When my husband and I retired from teaching in New York sixteen years ago, we went to South Carolina for the winters. We became very involved in the local school where we tutored students and helped out at Coastal Carolina University events such as basketball and football games. We even were volunteered for track officials.

We moved to New Orleans in 2009 to be close to our grandchildren. Becoming involved here was important. So we began volunteering at a number of schools and became part of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation. We worked the Super Bowl and NCAA  Final Four events, which was very rewarding.

One of our neighbors told us Touro was looking for volunteers. After learning about the hospital’s history and mission, we were hooked. Touro is a wonderfull hospital with a wonderful staff. Denise Chetta, Director of Volunteer Services, does such a great job placing people and making us feel appreciated.

Working in the surgery lounge has made me so impressed with the work the doctors, nurses, and staff do at Touro everyday. I try to make the people waiting while a family member or friend is having surgery feel as comfortable and informed as possible, which is an important goal of mine.

In conclusion, I volunteer to help the community where I live. I volunteer at Touro because I truly believe we all make the hospital better for the patients and their families. The more you help people, the more you enrich your life.

National Volunteer Week, April 15 – April 21

The theme for National Volunteer Week is Celebrate Service – an opportunity to shine a light on the people and causes that inspire us to serve. Volunteerism empowers individuals to find their purpose, to take their passion and turn it into meaningful change. National Volunteer Week is an opportunity to recognize and thank volunteers who lend their time, talent, voice and support to causes they care about in their community and around the world. Their stories serve to inspire others to take action and discover their collective power to unite in making a difference.

Click here to learn more about the benefits of volunteering.

Click here to learn how you can volunteer at Touro Infirmary.

Volunteers Make a World of Difference

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.”

Jan and Mark Buggs with COO David Elgarico

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.

Celebrate Service

Celebrating Extraordinary People

Denise Chetta, Director of Volunteer Services

Mary Fagan has been volunteering at Touro for more than six years. She primarily serves in the Family Surgery Lounge and loves bringing flowers from her garden to work. “Everyone is so nice here,” she says. “I love meeting the families and helping them feel at ease as their loved one undergoes surgery.”  Mary plays an important role at Touro along with our other 353 volunteers. Our volunteers add an extra dimension of care for our patients and their families. Touro’s volunteers serve in a variety of departments, including Chemo Infusion Center, Emergency Department, Patient Financial Services, Pastoral Care, Infection Control, the Information Desks, Rehab, special events and a variety of other positions.

We are appreciative of the time and energy our volunteers dedicate. A common theme among our volunteers is their generosity for others. “As the family and patients leave, they tell me they appreciate my help. I find that very rewarding,” Mary states. Volunteer Joe Ginn agrees. Joe has been a volunteer at Touro for two years. He primarily serves in Employee Health and the Information Desk. “I appreciate hearing thank you from our patients,” Joe adds. “I love connecting with people and bringing a smile to their face.”

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Benefits of Volunteering

Vernilyn Juan, M.D.

It is always wonderful to give back and put others before yourself.  Here are four reasons why volunteering is a great idea and how you can truly make a positive impact and difference on others and yourself.

Colors hands up

1. Connects You to Others
If you feel stuck in your ordinary routine and are looking to branch out to make new friends and contacts, volunteering can increase your social and relationship skills. It allows you to connect to your community and help make it a better place, while broadening your support network and exposing you to people with common interests and neighborhood resources.

2. Good for Your Mind and Body
Volunteering can give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment.  If you are feeling blue, it can help increase self-confidence and life satisfaction. In fact, a “feel-good” sensation is released and can reduce stress levels producing calmness. In fact, Allen Luk, past executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City, explains that the immediate positive emotion most volunteers experience is known as “helper’s high”, which allows you to feel self-worthy and proud.

3. Advance Your Career
If you are looking to beef up your resume, volunteering is perfect. Not only will you learn valuable job skills, volunteering allows you to try a new career and gain experience in a new field without making a long-term commitment.

4. Brings Fun and Fulfillment to Your Life
Volunteering can be fun too! Volunteering is an easy way to explore your interests and passions. It can bring you renewed creativity, motivation and vision that can carry over into your personal and professional life.

Where do I find volunteer opportunities?

  • Community Centers
  • Libraries & Museums
  • Clubs & Youth Organizations
  • Historical Restorations & Parks
  • Places of Worship/Religious Groups
  • Tutoring/Mentoring
  • Nonprofits & Charity Fundraisers
  • Hospitals & Long Term Care Facilities

Looking for a volunteer opportunity at Touro Infirmary?
Visit www.touro.com/volunteer or call Touro Volunteer Services at (504) 897-8107 to learn more today!

verlinVernilyn Juan, M.D. is a Family Medicine physician with Crescent City Physicians, Inc., a subsidiary of Touro. Dr. Juan is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.

>> Click here for details on Dr. Juan’s practice.