LAYTON -- When you volunteer, Shirley Mortensen believes, it increases your knowledge and causes you to be more concerned for others.
The 82-year-old Layton resident has racked up more than 50,024 volunteer hours. She will be honored for her service work in April when she receives the Silver Bowl Award from the Volunteers of America, Utah/Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.
Mortensen began volunteering at Davis Hospital and Medical Center in 1976, when the hospital first opened.
"I served cake and punch," she said. "I've been there ever since. The only time I was gone was to serve a senior mission with my husband to New York."
During her tenure, Mortensen has assisted and directed patients at the hospital and volunteered on different floors.
She also has served in various leadership positions on the hospital's auxiliary board, including service chairwoman, secretary, vice president and president.
Mortensen also helped to raise donations for chairs, birthing beds, activity supplies for staff recognitions, bereavement program items and the addition of a walking path for people to get exercise, said Elaine Williams, volunteer coordinator at the hospital.
Today, Mortensen spends four hours a week volunteering at the hospital gift shop where she was once the manager.
She said she loves that location because she meets so many people.
"Oh, you can't believe the people I meet," she said. "There are so many people from different backgrounds and cultures, people who are stationed at Hill Air Force Base from all across the country. You learn so much from them, and the stories they tell are so interesting."
Mortensen was born in Ogden and raised in Idaho for 10 years before returning to Utah. She and her late husband, Burton, had six children together. She also has 20 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren.
After graduating from American Fork High School, Mortensen attended Utah State University before serving a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mission in Chicago, where she met her husband.
"After I got married, I was a stay-at-home mother until my children got in school, and then I went to work for the Davis School District as a reading tutor," she said. "I stayed there for 15 years."
Williams said dedication is the first quality that comes to mind when describing Mortensen.
Not only did Mortensen manage the gift shop as a volunteer, she also crocheted hundreds of dresses and donated her time and yarn in order to have beautiful items in the gift shop, Williams said.
"Shirley is also known for her dependability by going above and beyond the volunteer responsibilities," Williams said.
"Her honesty and friendly nature are comforting, not only to her team but also to hospital staff, other volunteers, patients and people who come in to visit."
Mortensen said she is honored to receive the award, but added it is also an honor to volunteer.
"It makes you feel good," she said. "It's wonderful to meet other people and hear about their life. I also get to volunteer with my very good friend Jean Minor. She's 89 years old, and she's still going strong."