The joys of volunteering

Harland Graime

For the last three years, Bristol resident Harland Graime has had his own day at Bristol Hospital dedicated to honoring him and his extensive volunteer efforts.
“I don’t do it because I wanted a ‘Harley Day’,” Graime, 69, said, “I do it because I enjoy it, and enjoy the people I meet and work with.”
Graime is no stranger when it comes to volunteering his time, and for the last three years he has been spending about four days per week, and four to five hours per day, assisting in the emergency room at Bristol Hospital.
“When people go to the emergency room, they typically do not want to be there,” he said, especially because they don’t know how long they will be there, or don’t want to wait too  long to find out information about their condition.
That is where Graime, and about six other volunteers, comes in. He visits with patients, helps them feel more comfortable by getting blankets or something to eat or drink, he has chats with them and more. Graime also lends a helping hand to the staff, with tasks he is allowed to help out with. This way, if Graime helps out by bringing samples to a lab, the nurses and doctors can spend that much more time with the patients.
He added that he also has learned a lot about the medical field during his time spent volunteering at the hospital, which has been since 2009, and is able to help patients find out answers, since he knows who to go to.
“It is definitely a learning experience,” Graime said, adding that he trains new volunteers as well. Some of whom are pre-college, or college and nursing students and are looking to get more experience.
He said he wanted to volunteer in the emergency room because there are many tasks to do there, and many patients to visit with. He said it has been his favorite area of the hospital to volunteer his time in.
Graime has lived in Bristol for about 40 years, and he said even though he isn’t a life-long resident, he still gets to see old friends while he’s volunteering. He added that many patients will remember him if they come back for follow-up visits, or even if he sees them out in the community.
“It’s nice that I’m remembered for something good,” he said.
Earlier in December, Graime was named one of The Hartford Business Journal’s Health Care Heroes, for his dedication to the healthcare industry. He was one of seven chosen to be named a “Health Care Hero,” in the entire state.
“In a demanding and rapidly evolving industry, these seven individuals have upheld a commitment to excellence and improving the health and well-being of those that they serve,” Gail Lebert, publisher of the Hartford Business Journal, said in a press release. 
According to an article in the Hartford Business Journal, Graime has achieved more than 3,000 volunteer hours at Bristol Hospital. Graime also said he volunteers for many other organizations, like at the New England Carousel Museum and for the Brain Injury Association.
“It is a cliché that you should give back to your community, but volunteering is my way of trying to give back,” Graime said.
According to the article, Graime earned his doctorate in metallurgy at the Stevens Institute of Technology in 1971 and retired from Sims Metal Management, as vice president of the Hartford company’s aerospace division, in 2008. He lives in Bristol with his wife of 43 years, and the couple has two grown children.
Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver. com.