Elaine Soule’s relationship with Gifford began at birth, and possibly before. Her mother graduated from the nursing school in 1923 and worked under hospital founder Dr. John P. Gifford. Elaine was born at the Randolph hospital in 1933.
Raised in Randolph Center, she attended local schools and married the summer following high school graduation. His career in the U.S. Air Force took them around the country and beyond. Elaine’s own six children were born on military bases in New York, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, Bermuda, Louisiana, and Maryland.
In 1971, after 20 years of military life, the family returned to Randolph. Before the families’ furniture had even arrived, Elaine had landed a job at Randolph National Bank. She started out typing signature cards and eventually became a branch manager of what was Randolph Savings and Loan, then Vermont Federal and finally Vermont National over her 28-year career.
Along the way, Elaine worked at Gifford on weekends from 1990-1995 in patient registration. After retiring from the bank in 1998, she came to work at Gifford in 2001 as the volunteer services coordinator.
“I have always felt close to Gifford,” says Elaine, who served on the hospital Board of Trustees for nine years in the 1990s.
So when Elaine retired in 2006 after five years as volunteer services coordinator to undergo cancer treatment, she knew she’d be back. “I knew I’d come back to volunteer, because I wanted to be part of this place,” says Elaine. “I just loved the Gift Shop. I’d loved volunteering. I thought it was a way to continue to be involved with Gifford after I retired.”
For months, Elaine came to Gifford as a patient for chemotherapy treatments. “My cancer treatments were wonderful,” Elaine says, calling the staff “so compassionate”. When her treatments ended in early 2007, Elaine continued her trips to Gifford – this time as a volunteer two days a week in the Gift Shop.
“Now I don’t have to be here, but I choose to be here,” she says from her post behind the desk of the boutique. “I think the volunteers at the Gift Shop are great. I hope we serve a purpose. I think we do.”
For Elaine, now 79, it is about staying active and connected in her community and at her community hospital. “I love it because it gets me out of the house to meet people and I feel that I am contributing to Gifford in a small way,” she says.