COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Veterans who visit the Dorn VA say there is an iconic voice that calls to remind them of their doctor’s appointments, and it belongs to a volunteer who has been making hundreds of calls daily for more than eight years.
Each phone call starts and ends the same way, “Hello, this is Dorothy Dickert at the Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia…. Thank you and have a nice day."
But every time the almost 90-year-old makes a call, she has an important message, “You have an appointment at the podiatrist clinic tomorrow at 2:30,” Dickert said as we watched her make one of the many calls on her list.
Dickert makes 400 of these calls daily to make sure every veteran on her list gets a reminder for a doctor’s appointment.
“We want to give our veterans the best,” said Tammy Finney, Chief of Community Relations at the Dorn VA. “And hearing that voice on the other end to tell them thank you for their service and to give them that reminder call [does that], because that reminder call could save their life."
Dickert is especially fond of taking care of veterans. She was married to one for 51 years.
My husband passed away in the hospice unit,” Dickert said.
That was in 2010. That same year her husband’s social worker asked Dickert if she would volunteer.
“It was supposed to be just one day a month for her,” said Dickert. “It wound up to be eight hours a day, five days a week, but then I did start taking off on Friday because I have some appointments and stuff myself."
But every other day, Dickert says she looks forward to working through her long list.
"I've got a lot of what I call "phone friends" because I wouldn't know them if I saw them in the hallway,” said Dickert. "But a lot of them I guess they have caller ID, and when they pick up the phone they say, “Good morning, Dorothy!"
While Dickert was making her latest round of calls, Matt Mungo from Mungo Homes got to thank her for the thousands of phone calls she’s made while no one was watching and surprise her with the news that she’s our latest WIS and Mungo Homes Community Builder.
“Thank you very much for making sure all our veterans know when and where to be at their appointments,” Mungo said. “Keep up the good work, and this is yours,” added Mungo as he handed Dickert her hard hat.
“Well thank you, I appreciate this,” said Dickert. "It’s a big surprise!"
A big surprise for a humble little lady who after posing for a picture got back to making all the calls on her list.
Ms. Dorothy says she is so grateful for her $1,000 donation from the Michael J. Mungo Foundation and is thinking about giving it to the hospice unit that cared for her husband at the Dorn VA.