Visitors to Sharp Memorial Hospital’s Gift Shop on any given weekend will probably be greeted by Minnie Price.
At 98 years old, she is not only Sharp’s oldest active volunteer, but one of the longest-serving volunteers in the entire system. Price has logged more than 40,250 hours of service since she started volunteering in 1956, only a year after the hospital opened.
"They tell me I’m a legend," she said.
Price began volunteering at age 58. She worked at the hospital reception desk and helped out with the Expectant Mothers’ Tea. She soon moved to the Gift Shop, a small operation that at the time only sold candy and cigarettes. Price remained with the store as it expanded, moved locations several times — and stopped selling cigarettes.
After all these years, Price said she still enjoys meeting hospital visitors and lending an ear to guests.
"I’m a talker," Price said. "They come in to shop, and I know their life story before they leave."
Price, who has six great-grandchildren, was born in 1916 in Miles City, Mo. She came to San Diego in 1933 to visit relatives, where she met her future husband, Henry Price. The couple worked in his insurance business and had one daughter, who now lives in Tustin. Henry Price died in the early 1990s.
At Sharp Memorial Hospital, Price’s frankness, fierce determination and love of chocolate are well known.
"I think it’s huge that she learned how to use the computer point-of-sale system," said Lorraine Broglie, a board member for the Sharp Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, which operates the Gift Shop. "It says something for her to embrace that and figure it out so she could still volunteer."
Price has known all seven of Sharp Memorial’s administrators, including Dan Gross, executive vice president of hospital operations at Sharp HealthCare, with whom she still shares a special friendship.
"Minnie is one of the most amazing and extraordinary individuals I know," Gross said. "Her heart and soul are committed to Sharp Memorial Hospital, its patients and families, and employees. Her honesty, directness and passion are unparalleled."
To Price, volunteering at Sharp is her benefit, too.
"You can feel lousy, but you go in and meet people and help them," she said. "It’s what keeps you well. It’s what keeps you young."
For More Information
To learn more about volunteering at Sharp Memorial Hospital, visit Volunteer Opportunities. To contact the volunteer office, call 858-939-3588, email firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by our office located in Trailer E (directly behind the Rehabilitation Center) at 2999 Health Center Drive, San Diego, CA 92123.