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'It keeps me young,' says 96-year-old Carle volunteer

'It keeps me young,' says 96-year-old Carle volunteer
Aubrey Atkinson recently celebrated his 96th trip around the sun and spent the day doing what he loves: volunteering as a patient escort at Carle Health Methodist Hospital. This year is special for Aubrey because he also is celebrating 30 years of service at Carle Health.

At a young age, Aubrey remembers being taught how important it is to help people and this shaped him into the volunteer he is today. “When I was a young kid, I was told to help anyone I could. I was told to help people cross the street, help with the groceries, help with directions, help with the dishes and it just stuck with me. It’s important to be there for people and offer help, especially in a hospital.”

After a 30-year career in the flooring business, Aubrey said he wasn’t ready to sit around and do nothing for the rest of his life. He wanted to keep busy. “As I started to get older and got to the end of my business career, I knew in the back of my mind I wanted to volunteer at Methodist. I had been a patient there myself in the past and noticed the volunteer escorts and thought that would be something I could do after retiring.” Aubrey explained he chose to volunteer at Methodist because he was familiar with the hospital and always enjoyed his experience. “I’ve always gone to this hospital and had a pleasant experience and enjoyed the staff. I’ve always recommended this hospital to my family and friends. Now, this hospital is part of my life and I’ve spent 30 years of my life here.”

Aubrey earned the nickname “Ornery Aubrey” because he is always joking around. “I like to tease people and I don’t mind being teased. I just like to have a lot a fun while I’m working. It keeps me young!” Aubrey also has a soft side. He plans something special every Valentine’s Day and brings in carnations for all the ladies who come into the hospital that day. He even brings pizza every year on his birthday.

Aubrey said he’s glad he made the decision to volunteer. “I am happy to be a volunteer at Carle Health. Anyone that’s been in a rut after working for so many years and wanting to keep busy, I’d tell them to volunteer at Carle Health like I did. I really enjoy doing something good for somebody. Making people smile makes me smile. If I had another 96 years in me, I’d spend them volunteering.”

Carle Health is always looking for compassionate team members. Visit to start your volunteering journey.

Categories: Culture of Quality

Tags: aging, healthcare, Methodist, Peoria, volunteerism