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'Peppermint Lady' passes out joy with candy

Maternity services volunteer Saundra Dochniak is known on the second floor at Baptist Health Paducah as “The Peppermint Lady,” and she is as sweet as her nickname.

You might find her serving breakfast trays, talking to excited new moms, delivering Bibles to newborn babies and, of course, sharing peppermints with the nurses in Labor and Delivery.

“I wouldn’t call this work,” she said, “just enjoyable.”

Dochniak is one of approximately 165 Baptist Health Paducah Auxiliary volunteers who provide more 30,000 hours’ service each year – time valued at half a million dollars.

Decked out in their familiar pink coats and navy vests, they transport patients, deliver mail, coordinate the gift shop, serve as chaplains and manage information desks and waiting rooms.

The Auxiliary started in 1953 and has played a major role in the success of the hospital. “They are an integral part of the Baptist Health Paducah family,” said coordinator Greg Holtgrewe.

Dochniak wanted to be part of the hospital where close family works and her grandchildren were born. She is approaching her 10th year as a volunteer. 

As for her nickname, it caught on after she gave peppermints to nurses with a tickle in their throat who, as she puts it, “just needed a little happy in their day.”

Dochniak continued this sweet gesture every time she volunteered, thus earning her the nickname and a special place in the hearts of her colleagues. If there is a job to be done – large or small – you can bet she will do it with a smile…and a peppermint.