Meet Mary Imle
40 Years Of Service
I interviewed Mary at Mangrove Bay where, at the age of 93, she is President
of the Resident Council, and leads the water aerobics class when the Activities
Director is unavailable.
When Mary came to town in 1980, the third ‘leg’ of the Medical
Center, the East Entrance and patient tower, was barely a year old. The
Auxiliary’s Gift Shop, which had opened on Valentine’s Day
1979, became Mary’s first volunteer assignment. She found a shop
with no records, no pricing policy, and a very limited inventory –
“candy bars, and at least 50 salt & pepper shakers”, she
says. Cash was kept in a cardboard box, and a muffin tin held the change.
Mary had no retail experience, but her first friend in town ran a gift
shop in Tequesta, and she helped Mary set up a proper shop and even shared
some inventory with her. Mary ordered the shop’s first cash register,
and had the volunteers trained to use it.
But Mary already had her sights on another assignment, and after a year
she persuaded the Auxiliary President to let her create a new position.
In those days the switchboard was wide open to the lobby, and the operators
were often interrupted by visitors. Mary started sitting with them, answering
visitors’ questions and giving them room numbers. But there was
also a phone off to the side which would ring with requests for someone
to run errands, and Mary started answering that. Before long, she arranged
for a proper desk in the lobby, to be staffed by volunteers. The Escort
Desk was born, with Mary as the first Dispatcher, a position she held
for almost 30 years, from 1981-2010.
It is Mary’s nature to be helpful, and when she wasn’t staffing
the main lobby, she could be found in Family Waiting, which in those days
included not just surgery, but also ICU, Radiology, and Cardio-pulmonary,
and was located in the current ICU Family Waiting Room. When asked about
her favorite job, however, there was no hesitation: “Greeter is
my absolute favorite job.” She was one of the original Greeters
when the program began in 2009, and she looks forward to getting back to work.
But Mary is not one to sit still. Even in the midst of the COVID pandemic,
she found a way to volunteer: every month she collects donated items from
the other residents and arranges for our Thrift Shop truck to come to
Mangrove to pick them up. Reflecting on her years of service, Mary says
she is grateful for the privilege of being a part of the growth of the
Medical Center. She gives thanks for the regular training that volunteers
receive, which enables us to better serve our community. “It is
that sense of community that sets us apart,” she says. And most
of all, she is grateful for the many lasting friendships that have blessed
her many years at JMC.