Servant hearts; Volunteers keep giving to clinic auxiliary

Published 5:33 am Thursday, April 27, 2017

Ken and Joanne Jensen sat at the information desk at the main entrance of Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin, answering visitor questions and providing assistance where they could. They volunteer every other Monday and Friday and are two of 70 volunteers who are part of the Mayo Clinic Health System Auxiliary.

“The role of our auxiliary is to help people,” said Ken, a sentiment shared by his wife, Joanne.

“We feel that this is a good use of our retirement time,” she said.

The Jensens, who are retired teachers from the Austin Public School system, have volunteered with the auxiliary for 22 years. They got involved at the insistence of their friend, Janet Borchardt.

“Janet was working here and she said we would be a good addition to the auxiliary,” Joanne said.

“We knew that after we retired from teaching, we couldn’t just sit around,” Ken added. “We volunteered and we are very happy we did.”

Volunteers for the auxiliary fill a number of roles at the medical center , from pushing wheelchairs to delivering newspapers to patients.

They also sit at the information desk to answer questions and direct patients and visitors.

“The hardest part is when someone comes in and says, ‘I have an appointment,’ and we ask, ‘Who are you supposed to see?’ and they say, ‘I don’t remember,’” Ken said.

“We don’t always have an answer right out of our mouths,” Joanne said with a laugh.

The Mayo Clinic Health Systems Auxiliary does not just provide volunteers to fill various duties, but also provides funding for various projects, such as building the chapel on the hospital’s second floor.

“[The auxiliary] purchased the very first ambulance for the hospital in 1908,” said Ken, who also serves at the auxiliary historian. “We did not include the purchase of the horses.”

The hospital staff appreciates the work done by the auxiliary volunteers.

Joanne and Ken Jensen are two of about 70 Mayo Clinic Health System Auxiliary volunteers who fill a variety of assistance roles at Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin. Michael Stoll/

“The auxiliary delivers coffee in the morning to various stations and sometimes they appreciate it so much, they ask, ‘Where’s the tip jar?’” Ken said with a laugh. He said that, although they don’t take tips, any money they receive goes to the auxiliary.

The patients, however, are the most appreciative of all.

“I think we need to help make the patients comfortable as much as we can because they’re afraid some of the times,” Joanne said. “Sometimes we get them to laugh and sometimes we get them to sing. It makes their day and our day better. “

The auxiliary is run solely by volunteers and, according to the Jensens, they are always looking for more.

“The other volunteers do what works for them, so there is always someone here,” Joanne said. “They are here because the feel they are needed, and this allows them give as well as receive. It is absolutely rewarding.”

“It gives you a warm feeling knowing that you’ve helped people,” Ken said. “It’s just a service that we feel we’re doing to the community, in particularly to the hospital.”

For more on the Mayo Clinich Health System Auxiliary, visit