91-Year-Old Woman Spends More Than 20,000 Volunteer Hours at DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center

A 91-year-old woman has spent the past 25 years volunteering at a D.C. veterans medical center. 

After her husband who served in the Navy died, Mary Allen started volunteering at the Washington D.C. Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Since then, she has spent more than 20,000 hours.

“I have done everything in this building. I just started volunteering, because I didn’t have anything to do after I retired. You’ve got to do something to stay alive,” said Allen.

Allen is known throughout the medical center. Army veteran April Goodwin-Gill sees the commitment and dedication Allen puts forth as a volunteer.

“She’s a pistol. She’s so excited about being a volunteer, and she takes it very very seriously. It really means a lot. She’s been instrumental in me not just getting a hand out but a hand up,” said Goodwin-Gill.

Allen has interacted with and learned from many veterans over the years. As a volunteer, Allen has learned that one of the simplest things she can do to help is pray.

“Some of them come sit beside you and want you to pray for them. I never prayed for people before, but they sit down and lay their head on your shoulder, and you pray for them," said Allen.

During luncheon Tuesday afternoon, Allen was presented with the President’s Voluntary Service Lifetime Achievement Award.

Director of Voluntary Service Department of Veterans Affairs Sabrina Clark talked about what it takes to become a volunteer like Allen.

“One, desire. You want to give back. Two, a passion for something. What you do you do really well, and three, we’re looking for someone who has some time. If you put those things together, we’re going to find something for you to do,” said Clark. 

Every year, over 75,000 volunteers serve in 1,233 veterans affairs health facilities nationwide. 

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