By Philip Case
Their smiles are as engaging as their dedication to the volunteer work they do at Frankfort Regional Medical Center.
Brenda Wilkins is five minutes older than her twin sister, Glenda Wardrip. Both are 68 and have volunteered for 15 and 16 years respectively, most of that time in the hospital’s emergency room.
“I once had a lady ask me how long we’ve been twins,” said Glenda. Both laugh heartily.
The sisters work scheduling other volunteers for the front desk and surgery as well as the emergency room.
“We really enjoy working in the emergency room,” said Glenda, and Brenda concurred. “There’s a lot of sadness and trauma there and we try to be as comforting as we can by maybe giving a hug, holding a hand, getting something for a family member to eat or drink.”
The twins have done practically everything together across their lives. One notable exception is that Brenda married and Glenda didn’t. “She didn’t speak to me for six months,” said Brenda.
Both have an eye disorder, keratoconus, that impacts their corneas. Brenda can no longer drive so transportation is Glenda’s responsibility. One lives on the east side of town and the other on the west.
“That’s no problem,” said Glenda. “We’re going to take care of each other forever. We could live together but we both still enjoy a level of independence.”
Both laugh again.
Having retired when they were in their early 50s, being home all the time quickly got old.
“There’s just so much you can do at home,” Glenda said.
“We’ve always been active, and like to be active,” said Brenda. “We both played sports at Midway.”
They agreed the hospital would be an ideal place for them to donate hours. “We wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” Brenda said. “We started in nursing at Midway, so it’s in our blood.” Both hold associate’s degrees in business.
The volunteer program is under the auspices of the the Red Cross and coordinated by Jennifer Rock at the hospital.
“We’ve volunteered the Red Cross, too,” said Glenda. “We enjoy helping people out and giving back.”
The sisters have been patients at the hospital and effervesce about the treatment they received. “The staff and the doctors are great, and they really seem to appreciate what we do.”
Both have been recipients of the coveted Frist Humanitarian Award for Excellence named for the founder of the Hospital Corporation of America that owns FRMC. The award recognizes those who reflect the company’s culture and values.
Each has received the Red Cross Volunteer of the Year Award that recognizes “exceptional volunteers.”
“At one time we were volunteering about 100 hours per month,” said Brenda. “We worked almost every day and weekends and loved every minute of it. Now three days a week is enough.”
Glenda said it’s nice to be recognized around town, too.
“People will say, ‘I know you, you worked in the ER.’
“That makes it worth it and hopefully we brought smiles to their faces during a tough time.”