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Shirley Phelps

Volunteer Spotlight - Shirley Phelps

Shirley Phelps and her family endured an unimaginable tragedy in July 2010 when her husband of 45 years was shot during a robbery at P&P Garden and Hardware, the business he operated in Albany since 1977.  Walter Phelps spent a month at Phoebe before passing away from his injuries.  “Oh, they cried with us,” Shirley said of the Phoebe staff who took care of her husband.  “They were like it was their own family.”

Shirley said her family received excellent, compassionate care during Walter’s extended stay at Phoebe.  “Any time we had a question, it didn’t matter who we asked.  If they didn’t have an answer, they went and found out the answer.  The people they have working there just know what they’re doing,” Shirley said.  “Some people want to say something negative, but you won’t ever have to worry about me saying anything negative about Phoebe.”

The Phelps family’s roots run deep in south Georgia.  Shirley was born in Calhoun County and raised in Edison.  Walter grew up in Albany and later served as a Lee County Commissioner.  All three of their children were born at Phoebe, and two of those children and their families still live here.  Shirley retired from the Lee County Health Department and remains an active member of Byne Memorial Baptist Church.

Because of her love for her community and her desire to give back to Phoebe, Shirley became a volunteer here in 2013, serving at the Carlton Breast Health Center at the main hospital and at Phoebe Gastroenterology before settling at the Carlton Breast Health Center location at Meredyth Place.  “I just love the contact with the patients when they come in, plus all the techs and employees really enjoy their jobs, so it’s a pleasant place to be,” she said.

Shirley encourages anyone with a desire to help others, no matter their age, to become a Phoebe volunteer, but she says it can be especially rewarding for those of her generation.  “When you get to be  retirement age, it’s so easy just to say, ‘I’m not useful any more,’ and just kinda get into yourself.  That’s the worst thing you can do,” Shirley advises.  “When you have an outlet like this where they make you feel so important and appreciated, a lot of people don’t realize the impact that Phoebe volunteers have.”

Despite living through some dark days and seeing the worst of humanity, Shirley focuses on the good in others and on her opportunities to serve.  “It’s my faith in God that’s got me through every day of my life,” she said.  And that faith and her service will continue to get her through and continue to serve as an example to others.