Go Giver: Phyllis Stubbs

Go Giver: Phyllis Stubbs

Phyllis Stubbs, 82, is a quiet lady and a bit shy, until she warmly greets the critically ill and injured children and their families who travel to Jacksonville hospitals and medical centers for care and treatment. Truth is, there is no one better than this gentle retiree to understand the stress and fear that parents of pediatric patients experience.

Stubbs, and her late husband James, lost their only child, son Roy, in a tragic scuba diving accident when he was just a 16-year-old high school junior. She vividly remembers the heartache and shock they felt.

“I know what the parents are going through and I want to make them feel welcomed and comfortable and just help out in any way that I can. When something happens to your child the world stops. That is one reason I started volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House reception desk, making registration packets, anything the families need, I’ll try to do,” she said.

For years Phyllis and her husband liked to relax over coffee every morning at their neighborhood McDonald’s. As time passed, they became friends with the owners. After her husband’s death they encouraged Phyllis to visit the Ronald McDonald House and become a volunteer. Phyllis’ visit led to 18 years of helping children and families every week, first at the original Jefferson Street location, and then at the new facility constructed in San Marco in 2001.

“I feel like I am the children’s mother or grandmother and really can’t ever give too many hugs. I hope this feels like a home away from home to them, because they travel from all over the U.S. and overseas. We have such great doctors and medical facilities in Jacksonville. Whether they come for a short appointment or six to eight weeks of proton therapy, everything depends on how their patient is feeling,” she said. “They may be exhausted and just need support, or if things are going well they may be able to take a break and go see the ocean, just get away from the hospital for a while. I’m always amazed at how strong the parents are.”

Stubbs used to drive patients and families back and forth to the hospital or appointments, but had to stop providing transportation at age 75 for insurance reasons. She said that driving patients is just one of the many jobs for which volunteers are needed on a regular basis. She said that everyone working or volunteering at the House feels like family. In October, when she marks her 83rd birthday, Stubbs knows there will be a little celebration, but the real milestone will be 2016 when she plans to thoroughly enjoy her 20th year as a volunteer!

In her spare time, Stubbs works large picture puzzles, reads and talks by phone with her sister in New York. Her sister, practically a youngster at age 77, according to Stubbs, also volunteers at her community Ronald McDonald House in Syracuse, where she has provided monthly meals to patients and their families for the past eight years.

San Marco’s Ronald McDonald House is celebrating its 25th anniversary year in Jacksonville during 2014.

By Julie Kerns Garmendia
Resident Community News

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