When Wichita, Kansas, native Judie Ellis retired seven years ago, she stayed home for six months.

That, said the former paralegal, was enough time for her to decide, “Oh, no, this is not for me.”

Looking for something meaningful to do with her time, she began volunteering at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis, rounding on hospitalized patients to get feedback about their stay. It was just what the now-76-year-old great-grandmother needed.

“Once you’re involved, you’re hooked,” said Judie, who is just shy of 2,500 volunteer hours. Those hours have been spent putting her time and talents to use in a variety of ways. For example, she has lent a hand at the hospital’s Child Development Center. She’s been an information resource for families in the Surgery Waiting Room. She’s helped with the art therapy activities offered to patients on the seventh-floor dedicated cancer unit.

Currently, she greets patients and visitors at the hospital’s information desk on Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons and has just started helping out at the volunteer-run Flower and Gift Shop at Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph.

Additionally, she’ll complete the first year of her two-year term as president-elect for Ascension Via Christi Volunteers’ Partners in Caring group in June and begin her term as its president in June 2021.

“I really love being a volunteer,” Judie said. “Making someone smile and being told thank you for helping me is priceless.”