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Volunteer Spotlight - OVH Foundation Volunteer Is Also One TUF-SOB
0601 Hospital Vol
Oak Valley Hospital Foundation Volunteer of the Year Saundra Sward West stands next to portraits of her parents, Vic and Gail Sward, who were founding members of the foundation. - photo by RICHARD PALOMA/The Leader
Oak Valley Hospital Foundation Volunteer of the Year Saundra Sward West downplays her recognition with sincere modesty, wishing for focus on her causes rather than her work.
“Isn’t there someone else more deserving of attention,” replied West when contacted for an interview. “I’m not one who gets in the spotlight. I’m more of a sweep-the-floors type person.”
Described as “a woman who goes above and beyond” by Lana Casey when presenting West with the foundation’s award at a May gathering, West was also noted as being an integral part of the OVH Foundation’s success.
The Oak Valley Hospital Foundation was established in 1980. The organization procures donations and gifts to extend financial aid toward the operation, maintenance, and modernization of Oak Valley Hospital.
West said she was “dragged” into volunteerism during her teen-aged years by her mother, Gail Sward, who was a founding member of the foundation. After her mother passed away in 2008, West came onto the foundation’s board of directors to keep her mother’s legacy continuing.
West said she spends a lot of time on the telephone promoting hospital foundation events, working the functions, and bringing awareness to the organization.
“My reward is the satisfaction of raising money for the hospital and seeing people have fun,” said West. “I get enjoyment out of putting on an event and seeing it come together.”
Oak Valley Hospital Foundation Executive Director Amy Thompson described West as “priceless” and a great asset to the foundation and community as a whole.
“Her whole family gets involved and her kids don’t even ‘balk’ at the idea,” said Thompson. “Volunteering is bred in the whole family’s genes.”
West’s fulltime job is at Sward Trucking where her father, Vic Sward, founded the company in 1966 and has formed it into a major Oakdale company employing over 60 persons.
With her trucking job also comes a sense of involvement for volunteering for various trucking-related charities such as Trucking for Hospice and the Truckers United Fraternity Super Offspring of the Boss or “TUF-SOB.”
Trucking for Hospice raises money for the Hospice of San Joaquin and Community Hospice, Inc. that care for terminally ill patients during their final days. West volunteers during the organization’s annual motorcycle run in July where several hundred cyclists participate and thousands of dollars are raised for area hospice care facilities.
“The hospice care was amazing for my mom before she died,” said West of why she is involved with the charity. “They gave us and others end of life direction.”
As a member of TUF-SOB, West volunteers her time in that group’s fundraisers that include a golf tournament and procuring donations for the yearly scholarships and financial aid awards to deserving students who are employees or have family members in the trucking industry. West also reviews scholarship applications and provides input to the review panels.
When the event “Shopping for Charity” was in Oakdale this year and needed help getting merchandise transported from San Francisco to Oakdale, West volunteered her time and a truck from Sward Trucking to get the job done. West went to San Francisco and helped load merchandise and also assisted taking the unsold items back.
“It wasn’t fun being up at midnight,” West said about the journey, “but it was fun seeing the city at that hour.”
After explaining all her community involvement, West still downplayed her importance, stating she and her family volunteer because they want to and that it’s difficult to receive accolades.
She points back to her mother as her driving force.
“At her funeral there were over 800 people in attendance,” said West. “That’s how I could tell her legacy needed continuing. If I can touch half of that, I’ll be successful.”