Charles Gillean greets visitors, bakes cookies

“The people that haven’t been in the hospital before, they’re really amazed,” said 67-year-old Charles Gillean, of Milford. “I tell people I have the best office in the country.”

Gillean was an important volunteer during the moving Milford Memorial Hospital to the Bayhealth Sussex Campus earlier this year. He’s a big fan of the new building.

“The old hospital, it had ramps,” he said. “Try taking a 300-pound person in a wheelchair up a ramp. It’s a challenge!”

Gillean’s passion for volunteering hasn’t gone unnoticed by the patients and staff. Later this month, he’ll be one of 32 individuals and groups to receive this year’s Governor’s Outstanding Volunteerism Award.

“Charlie is always willing to try something new,” said Carrie Hart, manager of volunteer services at Bayhealth. “He brings a great energy and enthusiasm to all he does.”

Gillean, a military brat, was born in Japan and speaks fluent Japanese. He retired from a pharmaceutical job and moved to Milford about five years ago. Happier when active, he began volunteering for Mispillion Art League, the Riverfront Theater and Bayhealth.

Normally, Gillean works two eight-hour shifts a week, splitting his time between the front desk and the cafeteria. He said the most rewarding part is making visitors feel at ease.

At the front desk, Gillean is known to be helpful and compassionate.

According to his award bio, his primary concern is always “the comfort and needs of the patients and families that are scared, anxious, and, at times, very ill.”

Gillean’s baking skills are also essential. In the cafeteria, he’s known as the “cookie man.”

“That place runs on chocolate chip cookies,” he said.

“Charlie,” as he’s known to friends, is an avid fisherman.

“Put a five-gallon bucket of water in your yard and I’ll be by to cast a line into it,” he said happily. “Volunteering allows me flexibility, so if the bluefish are running I have the opportunity to go out and catch them.”

Gillean will receive his award Oct. 29 at Dover Downs. For more, visit volunteer.delaware.gov.