Bout with cancer, stroke spurs volunteer service at Sparrow

Published: April 24, 2013

As she battled Stage 4 ovarian cancer and a stroke, Jan LaGrow saw the impact simple human interaction had on her fellow Sparrow patients. That's when she made a vow that if she survived her ordeal she would volunteer her time to brighten the days of others.

The Lansing woman has been a standout volunteer at Sparrow Specialty Hospital for seven years. She is among several mid-Michigan residents nominated as 2012 Volunteer of the Year by the Capital Area United Way at a ceremony tonight.

During this National Volunteer Week, Sparrow is recognizing its 1,500 teen and community volunteers and more than 300 college volunteers. They make a difference in the lives of our Patients and their families every day.

Did you know that in 2012:

  • Volunteers gave 1,450 massages to 346 babies?
  • Hospice volunteers made 5,702 Patient visits?
  • The volunteer E.W. Sparrow Auxiliary made 7,800 baby blankets?

Despite having physical limitations from her stroke, LaGrow says she thrives on her twice-weekly visits to Sparrow Specialty Hospital, a long-term acute care facility on the Sparrow St. Lawrence Campus.

"Are you kidding?" she says when asked about the rewards she gets from volunteering. "I get so much satisfaction. I love meeting new people."

Those who work with LaGrow at Sparrow laud her as an "amazing communicator" with unmatched passion and dedication.

An open house for prospective volunteers will be held from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Thursday, April 25, near the Lobby Café on the first floor of Sparrow Hospital. The open house will feature an overview of volunteer opportunities at Sparrow.

Anyone interested in volunteering should call 517.364.3606 or check out