Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2007

Longtime volunteer gift shop manager to retire

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Dan Gross⁄The Gazette
Joan Murphy, president of the Montgomery General Hospital Women’s Board, presents an award to Jean May, who will retire after 19 years as volunteer manager of the Montgomery General Hospital Gift Shop.
After 19 years of managing Montgomery General Hospital’s gift shop as a volunteer, Jean May is ready to move on.

May, a long-time resident of the Olney area and member of the hospital’s Women’s Board, will retire on Sept. 1.

She worked as a volunteer in the gift shop for three years before taking the helm as its manager.

‘‘I’ve really enjoyed it and it’s been very rewarding,” she said. ‘‘It’s been a great way to serve the community, the hospital and the Women’s Board.”

But it is now time for a change, she said.

‘‘I’ve decided to retire mostly because I want to travel, and with the gift shop, that is hard to do,” she said. ‘‘I feel a responsibility to be here every day.”

May works Monday through Friday. Each morning, she arrives early to check out the previous day’s sales, makes sure the supplies are adequate, and deals with any problems that may have arisen. She also coordinates the schedule of the shop’s 62 volunteers.

When the volunteers arrive and the shop opens for business, she unloads boxes, affixes prices on the items and stocks the shelves.

Until recently, she ordered all of the merchandise, but that job has been taken over by a couple of volunteers, she said.

May said she has seen the gift shop grow significantly over the years, including two major renovations.

‘‘It used to be a few small cubicles,” she said. ‘‘Now, it’s a really nice looking gift shop.”

She admits it is the people she will miss the most.

‘‘I will really miss the volunteers and the employees; this is a really friendly hospital,” she said. ‘‘I will also miss the people who come in while waiting for their loved ones to have surgery. They need to pass the time and often tell me their whole life story.”

Although May will retire as the shop’s manager, she will continue to volunteer at the hospital.

‘‘I’ll still be volunteering two or three times a month,” she said. ‘‘This has been a big part of my life for 19 years, and I still want to be involved.”

Joan Murphy, president of the Women’s Board, said that May has been an outstanding volunteer.

‘‘Volunteers with her dedication are hard to find,” Murphy said. ‘‘Jean always praises her people because she knows that volunteers are priceless.”

Murphy said the Women’s Board was not able to find an individual willing to take over the managerial responsibilities, so instead has divided the job among four people.

The Women’s Board recognized May at its meeting earlier this month, presenting her with a certificate, flowers and a small replica of the statue of hospital founder Dr. Jacob Bird that stands in front of the hospital.

Profits from the MGH Gift Shop enable the Women’s Board to offer many yearly scholarships and support the board’s pledges to such hospital projects as the pediatric emergency department, cardiovascular laboratory and the capital campaign.