This week’s News 3 Neighbors story puts the spotlight on Marleen Tharpe, a retired nurse who now finds herself back in the hospital as a volunteer.

Several days a week you’ll find Marleen working in the gift shop at Piedmont Columbus Regional Medical Center.  The surroundings are certainly familiar to her.  The Medical Center is where she started her nursing career back in the 1970’s, a career that spanned over four decades and includes as stint as an Army nurse.

Her charismatic personality has not only served her well in the hospital.  She recently won over the judges’ hearts in claiming the title of Ms. Senior Georgia 2019. 

Her platform…encouraging men to pay attention to their health.  Marleen chose this particular platform because she says men are not likely to take care of themselves before they first take care of their family.  She adds, “I try to get men to get physicals and don’t say no.” 

This subject hits close to home for her.  She recently lost her husband to stomach cancer.

Marleen is one of hundreds of auxiliary volunteers who helps out at Piedmont Columbus Regional every year. 

Nancy Williams is the director of volunteer services at Piedmont Columbus Regional and she recognizes Marleen’s special gift. 

Nancy says, “One of the things that Marleen brings, a lot of our volunteers bring, is a spirit.  They bring a spirit of wanting to help others.  It bubbles up from inside them.  I think you can see that with Marleen.  It’s infectious for our patients, our guests, and our staff.”

Marleen may have exchanged her nurse’s cap for a volunteer’s smock, but her heart for helping others hasn’t missed a beat. 

I asked her how nursing has molded her into the person she is now.  Marleen’s response…”I’m more humble.  My father always had a saying:  pretty is as pretty does.  You do for other people that are less fortunate and you just take what’s left.”

Over the past year, volunteers with the Piedmont Columbus Regional Auxiliary have donated over 31,000 hours of their time to the hospital.  If you are interested in making a difference like Marleen, just contact the hospital or simply drop by the gift shop.