MARGARET DENNIS of Bel Air has a wonderful way of repeating herself: This lively volunteer seldom ends a sentence without adding, "I just love people."
For 15 years, she has volunteered to the Fallston General Hospital, giving 15,000 hours of her time. She won't tell her age but laughs as she says, "I'm 79 and holding and holding."
Four days each week, she travels from her home in Bel Air to the hospital, where she works two days in the gift shop and two days "helping to manage the office. I'll go whenever I'm needed. I've never known nicer people than at Fallston. I just love people," she says.
Falston General Hospital, located at 200 Milton Ave., was established in 1974 as a 135-bed facility bringing much-needed acute health care to Harford County, northern Baltimore County and southeastern Pennsylvania. In 1986, it was acquired by the Upper Chesapeake Health Systems and today has 219 beds and services which include medical, surgical, emergency, coronary, intensive and psychiatric care, state-of-the-art scanner and magnetic resonance imaging as well as a 35-bed inpatient psychiatric facility for adult, adolescent and geriatric patients.
Ms. Dennis was born near Catonsville and moved with her husband, Wayne E. Dennis, to Bel Air in 1936 to open a hardware store "with a partner. After my husband died I worked for Getz Jewelry store there for 20 years and when I retired I wasn't home a week before I realized this sitting around was not for me. I've been at the hospital ever since," she
Ms. Dennis has other interests as well. She loves a good card game, for example, and she doesn't exactly mean bridge. "I like a little gambling and I go to Freeport in the Bahamas to test my luck now and then and I [play cards] with my friends here," she says, bemoaning the fact that her "card buddies are all in Florida right now."
Her weekends are spent in Northeast with her only daughter, Eleanor Anne Wood, her son-in-law Herbert and the family's five children. "They are my life," says Mrs. Dennis.
Volunteers are needed at Fallston General Hospital for help in more than 20 areas, including admitting, ambulatory surgery unit, emergency room, friendly caller program, gift shop and cart, grounds, clerical and much more.
Lyle Sheldon is the senior vice-president and chief operating officer of the hospital. Susan Anderson is the director of volunteers and those interested in volunteering should call her at 877-3700, 879-0500 or 452-8484 and ask for extension 3212.
Ms. Dennis is also a fund-raiser for the hospital. She holds jewelry sales in the hospital lobby. "I get jewelry from a supplier and this year I plan a sale in May, September and December," she says. "The sales are always fun," she adds. "I just love people."