Music to their ears: Spartanburg Regional welcomes back singing volunteer

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Spartanburg Regional is welcoming back volunteers for the first time since the pandemic started.

7 News learned why their roles are so important at the hospital.

“I sing and I enjoy singing,” Alex Roncati said. “That’s my forte and God’s gift, so I use that.”

428 days. That’s how long it had been since Alex Roncati had stepped foot inside Mary Black Hospital. That’s where he’s known as the “Singing Volunteer.”

“I do religious. I do popular. I do classical, because I have classical training,” Roncati said.

Monday was Roncati’s first day back at the hospital and the 80-year-old singer couldn’t be more excited. He told 7 News he missed doing what he loves most.

“More or less, you could say it’s musical therapy,” he said.

Roncati sings for the folks who are hurting or are lonely.

“I believe people need to be uplifted–especially patients,” he said.

He also sings for the hardworking people who’ve been our heroes for the past year.

“It was such a hardship for the medical personnel. You know, because it’s been rough,” he said.

“The staff loves what they do, but it can be overwhelming, it can be exhausting,” Spartanburg Regional’s Volunteer Coordinator Jill Dugaw said. “And just to have that sort of positive contact from somebody who is just there to spread joy, just there to be a warm, friendly face, that does just as much for the staff, I think, as it does for the patients.”

Jill Dugaw said, with all the sadness that has come with the pandemic, bright, positive people like Roncati are needed more than ever before.

“If somebody comes through and is singing these beautiful songs, and has a joyous heart, it helps a lot,” Dugaw said. “Things like that go a long way.”

Helen West is one of Spartanburg Regional’s longest-serving volunteers. She’s been with the healthcare system since 1967, contributing almost 9,000 hours of service.

“They have servants’ hearts. They want to give back,” Dugaw said. “They want to try and help people have a better experience.”

System-wide, Spartanburg Regional said, they have about 400 volunteers–all performing a variety of unique tasks.

Some volunteers play piano. Others bring in animals for pet therapy.

Spartanburg Regional said, just at their Spartanburg campuses, their volunteers average almost 40,000 hours a year, which means they’re helping the healthcare system save more than $1,000,000.

If you’re interested in volunteering with Spartanburg Regional, click here.

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