A Look Back at Volunteers | Torrance Memorial

Published on August 03, 2021

A Look Back: Volunteers

Torrance Memorial's volunteer program celebrates its 70-year anniversary in 2021!

historical photo of volunteer

Written by Jill Biggins Gerbracht

Torrance Memorial volunteers play an integral role in providing compassionate service to the hospital’s patients and visitors. The program started from modest beginnings in 1951 when a group of six ladies met at the original hospital on Cota Avenue for the purpose of organizing a Women’s Auxiliary. With 59 active volunteers at the end of the first year, the program has grown to more than 900 participants.

The program expanded to students in 1965 when teenage girls began their volunteer service at Torrance Memorial as candy stripers. The group changed its name to Student Volunteers when teenage boys began serving shortly thereafter.

The hospital’s longest-running volunteer, Mimi Brody (at 52 years and counting), began in 1969 when doctors and nurses smoked on campus and the gift shop was on a rolling cart that traveled throughout patient rooms. Today she still volunteers in the Gift Shop, serves on the Auxiliary board of directors and has volunteered more than 30,000 hours! Mimi has served in many roles, from greeting visitors to helping the pharmacy department and a variety of other activities.

mimi brody

Volunteers and staff at Torrance Memorial agree that laughter is one of their most important treatments. The hospital’s Clowns on Rounds volunteers bring smiles to patients during vulnerable moments in their lives. One of the hospital’s most memorable clowns was Pinkie, a volunteer from 2000 to 2014, best known for her endearing charm and outfits for every holiday (bottom left).

pinkie the clown

The hospital’s Pet Visitation Program, started in 1990 with four dogs and their owners, brings smiles to patients from a cast of cute and cuddly four-legged friends. Currently 16 dogs and their owners are in the program. The dogs are “volunteers” too, complete with bandana “uniform” and photo ID badge.

pet visitation dog with patient

All adult volunteers are members of the Torrance Memorial Auxiliary, which is proudly celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. In addition to providing volunteer service, the Auxiliary also supports various patient services and has raised more than $7 million over the years.

candy stripers

With more than 150,000 hours of service each year, Torrance Memorial volunteers touch the lives of thousands of our community’s residents. Undoubtedly, our volunteers make a world of difference in the lives of patients and their loved ones.