FRONTENAC — Joann Wattelet has volunteered over 13 years worth of hours at Via Christi Pittsburg with over 28,000 hours.

People may find Joann standing at the counter at the gift shop in the hospital or tidying up its gifts of baby clothes, trinkets, jewelry and more.  

Joann started volunteering in the 1980s after retiring from working at a factory where she made doors.

She said she lifted heavy doors, painted and sanded and was also on the factory line.
Her children saw her getting tired because of all the heavy work at her job, Joann said, and they encouraged her to volunteer at the hospital.
“My kids said, ‘Mom, you don’t need to work anymore. You ought to go to go to the hospital and do some volunteering, you will meet with people and be with people,’” she said.
She went to the hospital and put her application in. She has been volunteering at the gift shop ever since.

“I had lost two husbands, I was home by myself and I was young,” Joann said. “I felt I needed to get out and do something worthwhile.”

At the hospital, Joann met many people and made friends with the other volunteers.

“I met a lot of nice people and just enjoyed it,” she said. “I enjoyed the people and worked here all these years.”

Joann said her good health allows her to keep volunteering, as does a few words from her mother.

“I feel well, I don’t feel sick, I’ve had cancer before,” she said. “I feel like what I’m doing is helping someone, and my mom always told me you always want to help somebody and if I could do it and help somebody, then that’s great.”

Joann said the the ladies she works with also bring her back each day.

“I’ll keep coming up here until they tell me to go home,” Joann laughed.

In her spare time, Joann visits her grandchildren who live right next door to her.

“We are real close,” she said.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.