<h2>For immediate release</h2>
CHARLES GEORGE VA MEDICAL CENTER, Asheville – The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, one of the most prestigious awards presented by the Governor of North Carolina, will be presented to Ms. Ruby Rice Jones, a Charles George VA Medical Center volunteer in the medical center’s Multipurpose Room. Ms. Jones has been volunteering at the medical center for 61 years now.
The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is presented to individuals who have a proven record of extraordinary service to the state. Contributions to their communities, extra effort in their careers, or many years of service to their organizations.
Ms. Jones has been volunteering at the Charles George VA Medical Center for more than 61 years. She has been described as a dedicated woman who has sacrificed her time in order to help our nation’s Veterans. At last count she has volunteered 5,456 hours.
Ms. Ruby Rice Jones witnessed and been a part of major changes throughout the medical center and in the community. She began her career at the medical center in 1953 singing with the Sunbeams group in segregated hospital wards. Ms. Jones could often be heard singing or playing the piano for the patients. Throughout her volunteer career Ms. Jones has worked in almost every volunteer position within the hospital. Currently, she can be found volunteering in the Community Living Center (CLC) doing anything that is required to help out patients or medical center staff.
A VAMC staff member said that Ms. Jones vibrant personality and calming demeanor has had an astounding effect on the patients within the CLC and Hospice unit. She can often be found feeding patients at the CLC during meal times or spending time talking with hospice -patients one-on-one. The time that she spends with hospice patients has been some of her most rewarding work according to Ms. Jones. She said that she enjoys the feeling that she gets when she can lift the spirits of patients by sitting down and talking to them individually, listening to them or singing to them. These personal interactions help patients to feel better and know that they are not alone.
Although Ms. Jones stated that there is not anything that is difficult with the volunteer positions she has held, she did mention that it is difficult to not get attached to patients due to the amount of time that she spends getting to know each patient on an individual level. According to Ms. Jones, in order to be a successful volunteer one needs to have outstanding interpersonal skills, patience and time. The key she says is to be patient and to be willing to listen in order to truly understand the needs and wants of the patients.
Ms. Jones exhibits the necessary qualities of an outstanding volunteer and human being. Her dedication, caring, thoughtfulness and willingness to help our Nations Veterans during their time of need embody what the VA stands for. As she stated if “If I can help somebody along the way then my life is not in vain.” The Charles George VAMC has been lucky to have such an excellent volunteer and person at their facility for past 61 years.
The Order of the Long Leaf Pine award, created in the mid-1960s, comes with a certificate and the privilege of proposing, at any time, the North Carolina Toast:
Here’s to the land of the long leaf pine,
The summer land where the sun doth shine,
Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great,
Here’s to “down home,” the Old North State!
Past recipients include such famous Tar Heels as Maya Angelou, Billy Graham, and Michael Jordan along with longtime state employees, prominent business executives and noted politicians, athletes, musicians, actors and advocates.