Making a Difference

I didn’t feel good. And then…Jim Baynes came over

Patient Name :   Ursula Dickens and Jim Baynes

Making a Difference

Ursula Dickens reclined in bed at the Ambulatory Care Center waiting for surgery in her fight against breast cancer. The woman, originally from Germany, recalls being anxious and in pain. “I didn’t feel good. And then…Jim Baynes came over,” she begins. 

When Jim Baynes, a World War II Veteran, retired from working at Boone High School as an assistant coach and boys’ guidance counselor after twenty-nine years, he had nothing to do. “I was not making a contribution and I felt horrible,” Jim shares. With an excitement that lit his face, Jim explained what happened next. 

One day, a former neighbor and long-since-graduated student of mine stopped by for a visit. At the end of the conversation, the man told me to be ready at eight o’clock the next morning. He said he would come get me. The following morning I waited and exactly at eight, Clarence Brown, MD, President/CEO of MD Anderson Cancer Center Orlando, picked me up and drove me to the volunteer office at Orlando Regional Medical Center. ‘Do something with him,’ he requested, ‘and start him now.’ I have been here ever since, Jim concludes his story with a proud smile on his face. 

For nine years, Jim has worked every weekday morning in the Ambulatory Care Center (ACC) totaling 12,218 hours so far. One morning in the spring of 2005, Jim began talking with Ursula and relating with her in his compassionate and light-hearted manner. He joked with her and shared his personal experience with breast cancer in 1980. “He even had me laughing,” Ursula continues. “He made my experience wonderful and my waiting period so much better.” 

Jim credits the team at the ACC for the wonderful job they do while still relating with patients and making them feel better. “Give them all the credit. It is because of them that I am here,” Jim always insists. “My contribution is only possible because of their reputation,” he continues. 

“I forgot about my pain. I forgot about the concerns I had about surgery. Jim diverted my fears to something so delightful and made a big difference,” Ursula praises. “I like making a difference in someone’s life; it is why I volunteer,” Jim says. 

“He really is an amazing man and is an inspiration to us all. We are very lucky to have him; he has made such a difference in so many lives,” explains the manager of volunteer and guest services. “I wake up and I want to be there,” Jim says, “It is selfish, I know, but I like making a contribution.”