Alice Bell knows how to give warmth |

Alice Bell knows how to give warmth

Post Independent/Kelley Cox

When you pull up to Alice Bell’s house the first thing that catches your eye is a sign displayed in the carport. It shows a silhouette of a German shepherd and the words, “She can run to the gate in 3 seconds. Can you?”Despite the sign, Bell gives a recent visitor a warm welcome. So does the guard dog, Suki, who is 96 pounds of fur and love. Bell, 79, is a busy woman these days. Two days a week she volunteers at Valley View Hospital and other days, as she’s needed, Bell helps out with a friend who has cancer.On Mondays and Wednesdays she can be found in the new lobby of Valley View, “near the elegant fireplace,” welcoming visitors and helping them find their way around the greatly enlarged hospital.Bell has been a volunteer at the hospital since 1967, when she and her husband Leo moved to Glenwood Springs. Bell grew up in Michigan and married Leo there. During World War II, he served in the 10th Mountain Division, which trained at Camp Hale near Leadville. He told her of his love for the mountains and his intention to come back to them some day.

The Bells came to town for Leo to take a job as assistant manager at Safeway. Alice and Leo raised their children here. She and Leo were married for 48 years until he died 10 years ago.Bell has had a variety of volunteer jobs at the hospital over the years. She’s worked in the blood bank and giving newborn babies a hearing test. “It was nice to hold the babies. They don’t let you touch them anymore,” she said.For a few years she volunteered at an annual dinner that featured wild game meat donated by hunters and cooked up at the Buffalo Valley restaurant as a fundraiser for the hospital.Bell got into the volunteer business when she and Leo lived in Denver. There she joined a women’s club that rolled bandages in a local hospital. When the couple moved to Glenwood she thought, “Well, I’d volunteer where I was needed.”Bell is also part of the Threads of Love knitting group at Valley View, which meets weekly to make prayer shawls for patients and others in need of a warm, loving wrap.

“I’m working on number 64,” she said, proudly showing off a soft heather brown shawl she’s crocheting. She’s seen them go to ladies in nursing homes and a woman whose husband was dying of cancer. She made one for her sister-in-law who passed away from cancer.Bell is no stranger to the disease. She’s has two bouts with breast cancer, first in 1970 and again in 1998.Bell has a wicked sense of humor about the fallout from the disease. When her second breast was removed in 1998 she joked with her doctor, “Great, now I won’t have to get any more mammograms. He kind of looked at me.”But when she was first diagnosed, “I was devastated,” she said. Now when she takes patients up to the cancer center, “I can tell they’re scared.”She proudly wears a pink scarf to commemorate her successful battle. Her pink volunteer’s coat also sports a wacky pin, a pink and purple stick woman with wild pink hair, which she calls her “wild woman cancer survivor pin.”She shows the pin to patients and explains she’s survived the disease.

“They have to know there are survivors,” she said.Her reason for volunteering is simple. “I love it.”Sometimes people question why she works so hard for free. Bell replies, “I get paid a whole lot” from seeing newborns go home with their happy parents and giving comfort to someone with cancer.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext.

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