Mercy’s Day of Service Benefits Communities, Honors Sister of Mercy

February 28, 2024

by Mercy's Mardi Taylor

Mercy’s Day of Service pays tribute to Sister Mary Roch Rocklage, an icon in health care who relentlessly served and was known for her can-do spirit.

This year’s service week will be March 4-8 across every community Mercy serves in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. The day of service was first established in 2023 in honor of Sister Roch, a Sister of Mercy and the first president and CEO of the Mercy system, who passed away in 2022. Sister Roch was known for her giving spirit, which goes hand in hand with volunteering.

“This is a beautiful way to honor the life of Sister Roch,” said Kevin Minder, Mercy’s senior vice president of mission and community health. “It reminds me to reflect on one of my favorite Sister Roch quotes: ‘We exist to serve.’” 

Mercy doctor's coat Co-workers from Mercy Hospital South take part in Mercy Day of Service activities in 2023.

Aundria Goree, Mercy’s executive director of community health, said community health leaders across the entire Mercy system worked to coordinate hundreds of opportunities for Mercy co-workers. Volunteer activities may include loading boxes at a local food bank in St. Louis, serving meals at The Salvation Army in Oklahoma City, power washing furniture at a homeless campus in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and more.

Co-workers who volunteer during the year can utilize Mercy’s Volunteer Time Off (VTO) program. Established in 2022, the VTO program provides co-workers with time to volunteer during work hours at local nonprofits or community events and still get paid. 

In 2023, more than 2,300 co-workers took part in the VTO program, serving more than 13,500 volunteer hours.

“Service is in our Mercy DNA, and it’s a blessing to be able to live this core value inside and outside the walls of Mercy,” Minder said. “Sister Roch’s life is a legacy of service, and with 50,000 Mercy co-workers, we have the opportunity to make an impact in the communities where we live.”

Besides volunteerism being good for communities, it’s also good for overall health.

“Research has shown volunteering offers significant benefits for improving mental and physical health, provides a sense of purpose and helps with nurturing new and existing relationships,” Goree said.

The volunteer program is just one example of Mercy giving back to its communities. Mercy provided free care and other community benefits, along with traditional charity care and unreimbursed Medicaid, worth more than half a billion dollars to Mercy’s communities in fiscal year 2023.

Mercy doctor's coat Mercy co-workers are encouraged to include family members while participating in Day of Service activities.