Just what the doctor ordered

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of feature stories on local volunteers and volunteer opportunities. The series is inspired by National Volunteer Week, which is this week, April 21-27.

Jim and Char Scott
Jim and Char Scott, who have been married for 42 years and are recently retired, volunteer their time at Perham Health every Wednesday. “It’s our Wednesday morning thing to do,” Jim said. Robert Williams/FOCUS

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of feature stories on local volunteers and volunteer opportunities. The series is inspired by National Volunteer Week, which is this week, April 21-27.


Perham Health is aided by the assistance of more than 200 active volunteers, who donate a total of more than 9,000 hours per year.

Two of those volunteers make up the husband and wife team of Jim and Char Scott.

The Scotts have volunteered at Perham Health since it opened its newest facility in early 2012.


“We just retired two years ago in May,” Char said. “We just said we wanted to really become part of the community, and it was an opportune time to volunteer.”

Jim retired from a 26-year military career and private engineering practice. Char, while technically retired, continues her passion as a custom art framer, having moved her business to the couple’s lake cabin on West McDonald Lake.

The couple is originally from Fargo and has enjoyed their cabin west of Perham since 1989. Jim’s military career took the Scotts and their family all over the world to many homes as distant as Germany and Japan.

When it came time to retire, Perham stood out as a destination.

“Perham is a wonderful community,” said Char. “Our kids, being in the military, we moved them around. They always considered our lake, whether it was a lake cabin or home, their home. It’s always been their home.”

“We knew we wanted a lake community,” said Jim. “Perham offers just about everything you need to be able to exist.”

Perham Health offers three different volunteer positions: greeting at the front door of the hospital, manning the information desk or working in the gift shop.

The Scotts work the same shift together, Jim as a greeter and Char, typically, at the information desk. They work one day a week, on Wednesdays, in four-hour shifts from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.


“It definitely fills a need for me,” said Char. “I really enjoy it. People around here are very appreciative of the time that we put in.”

“Lots of conversations,” Jim said.

“For some patients, it’s their outing for the day, and they probably haven’t talked to anybody,” said Char. “What a way to meet community people, too.”

Volunteering as a team is synonymous with an axiom the Scotts have lived by in their marriage.

“When we first got married 42 years ago, it was a team effort, and the one thing we decided on when Jim went into the Army was we do everything humanly possible to stay together, and we were able to do that pretty much.”

“We decided to stay together as much as possible,” added Jim.

“It’s a work in progress,” said Char.

As has been the Scotts’ dedication to volunteering.


“We’ve always volunteered,” said Jim. “Whether it be religious education classes, or Loaves and Fishes feeding the needy and Habitat for Humanity.”

The Scotts have no plans to go for full retirement, and will continue to volunteer into the future.

“We’ve got it locked in,” said Char.

“We’ve got our shift,” said Jim. “It’s our Wednesday morning thing to do.”

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer at Perham Health can contact Karla Kupfer, the Volunteer Coordinator for both Perham Health and Perham Living, via email at or by calling 218-347-1619.

“We are still in need of several more volunteers, particularly in the hospital gift shop and information desk,” Kupfer said. “We simply could not do what we do here at Perham Health and Perham Living without the dedication and hard work of all of our volunteers. They are priceless to us.”

Perham Health and Perham Living provide a number of other volunteer opportunities. Approximately 65 volunteers work in the nursing home assisting with activities, chapel services, and helping out in the various households. Thirty-five volunteers take care of the Courtyard of Caring grounds at the nursing home, and 32 deliver Meals by Wheels, including several volunteer employees from United Community Bank. There are 90 volunteers between both gift shops, and 12 employees volunteer as front entrance greeters at Perham Health.

“As a small token of our appreciation, we hold an annual volunteer luncheon during National Volunteer Appreciation Week,” said Kupfer.

Robert Williams has been a sports editor for Forum Communications in Perham and Detroit Lakes since 2011.
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