About Amy Umble:
Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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On following Billy Carter as he delivered newspapers at Mary Washington Hospital

Billy Carter delivers a paper to patient Michael Mihalko. Photo by Pete Cihelka.

I was reminded recently how infectious friendliness can be. I relearned the lesson from Billy Carter.

Carter is an 18-year volunteer at Mary Washington Hospital, the man in the red vest who delivers the Free Lance-Star. The Mary Washington Hospital Auxiliary buys the papers and gives them free to patients, visitors and staff. Carter delivers 180 copies throughout the building at 8 o’clock every Saturday morning.

Recently one of our photographers, Pete Cihelka, and I followed Carter on his paper route for a story which will appear soon. We watched as Carter pushed his cart through each unit, calling out “Papers? Morning papers?” as he went.

Everyone knew Carter, and everyone seemed happy to see him. Other volunteers delivered the paper during the week, but none has made the impression that Carter has.

“Billy is the only one I know,” said Jennifer Meadows, a CNA on 2 North.

“He’s so cute. We love him,” added Angela Lane, a nurse on 2 South.

Carter has earned this affection through persistence, hard work and friendliness. He doesn’t make small talk, preferring instead to stay in motion. But he does offer a sincere “good morning” to everyone, especially the patients.

“He’s very outgoing, always happy,” said Senait Demoz, a nurse.

After trailing Carter for a while, I could see his effect on people, including me.  As Pete said later, “That was a good way to begin the day.”