Once a corporate executive who employed many people, Bob Theis now enjoys helping people directly, as a volunteer at Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) and as a donor to Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation.
Since moving to the area six years ago from upstate New York, Mr. Theis has been a member of the SMH Auxiliary, working in the heart catheterization lab.
“I specifically requested volunteering in the cath lab, as I have a history of heart disease myself,” he explains. “Heart disease doesn’t play favorites, and one way or the other, as a patient or as a family member of someone with heart disease, many of us are going to have an experience in the cath lab. I understand how stressful the process can be and like working with the patients and their families to help them get through it. Pure and simple, I enjoy helping people.”
Volunteering became philanthropy for Mr. Theis and his wife, Sally, when they were introduced to the Healthcare Foundation through the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. The Theises have become donors to the Healthcare Foundation, and their donations are earmarked specifically for needs of the cath lab.
“The Healthcare Foundation makes it easy for us to directly support our interests at the hospital, and that’s very appealing to volunteers in the heart catheterization lab at Sarasota Memorial Hospital because he can help people who have heart disease, like he has me,” Mr. Theis says. The Theises attended the Hospital Gala in January and raised a paddle in support of emergency and trauma services.
“I enjoy working at the hospital, and the Healthcare Foundation is another way to support it,” he adds. “As a volunteer, I like the diversity of the patients who come through the cath lab. They are from all walks of life, all races and religions, but they all have in common some form of heart disease. Likewise with the volunteers, we may all dress the same, but we are a group of about 600 folks from very diverse backgrounds.”
Mr. Theis has particular praise for the SMH nurses.
“They are so compassionate and efficient,” he says. “Anything that I can do to help them, I gladly do. From my experience as a volunteer in the cath lab, I can tell you that everyone there does an amazing job.”
So much so that when Mr. Theis needed his pacemaker changed while he and his wife were at their summer home in New York last summer, they returned to Sarasota and to SMH for the procedure.
The Theises have three children and one grandchild. One of their daughters is a nurse in Los Angeles.
“I have a much better understanding of what she does,” the father notes.