This week, the national spotlight shines on San Diego as baseball greats from across the league gather for the 2016 All-Star Game. Thousands will flock to Petco Park to watch their favorite players participate in the 87th annual Midsummer Classic, marking a symbolic halfway point in the baseball season.
But it doesn’t take a ball game to bring All-Stars to our city. They are all around us, often in unexpected places. They might even be driving a hospital shuttle.
Rocky Craig, a volunteer at Sharp Grossmont Hospital, is one of them. If you’ve ever walked into the main entrance at Grossmont, chances are you were greeted by Rocky or another volunteer standing at an outdoor podium. These volunteers are drivers for the “Blue Angels” shuttle service, helping patients and visitors get around the hospital campus.
A former professional baseball player himself, Rocky’s eyes light up when he talks about his career and the people he met along the way. During a seven-year stint, he was with the Kansas City Royals organization as well as the Houston Astros and even his home team — the San Diego Padres. After retiring from baseball, he spent 28 years driving for UPS. He and his wife raised four children and now he resides locally where he raises his granddaughter.
Rocky has volunteered at Sharp Grossmont for the past two years. When asked why he started, his response was simple. During a church service, his pastor asked the congregation, “What gifts do you have that you’re not using that can help others?” The first thing that popped into Rocky’s mind is something we all have: time.
After becoming friendly with another Sharp Grossmont volunteer, he visited the hospital to learn how he could help. Volunteer Services worked with him to find out what he was interested in doing. With his almost 30 years of driving experience, the shuttle service seemed like the perfect fit.
Each day he spends at Sharp Grossmont, Rocky meets unique new people, each with a different story. Some are going in for surgery and worried about the outcome. Others may not have any family or friends to visit them. He talks to everyone.
“Some people are very nervous, and having someone to talk to is a comfort for them,” he says. “I have met people who are so sick that they aren’t sure how much time they have left. Sometimes I ask if I can pray with them.” During these brief shuttle rides, he says he has experienced many amazing moments with people who are, at times, moved to tears.
According to Rocky, “No matter what I am going through, when I come to the hospital to share my time and connect with others, I leave with a sense of peace.” The connections he has made with others at the hospital have become extremely meaningful to him. What he may not realize is how meaningful those connections are to the people riding in his shuttle.
Rocky — and all of Sharp’s volunteers — demonstrate that sometimes the most meaningful gift you can give others requires no special training or skills. Carving out even a few hours per week to volunteer can make a major impact in someone’s life and improve the community — and world — around us.
Learn how you can make an impact at Sharp.