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"I never want to leave this earth saying 'I wish I would have…' If I've done all of this in just half my life, think about how much more I can see and do."

Lorraine Schell heads back to the ship from a Mercy Ships eye clinic in Guinea in 2013.

This little bit of life wisdom comes from Merck employee Lorraine Schell, who realizes volunteering provides enormous social and economic value to our communities, our country, and our world.

Lorraine has worked at the company for over 36 years and makes the most of Merck's innovative global employee volunteerism policy, Merck Gives Back, which provides every employee, in every global location, the opportunity to take up to 40 hours of paid time off each year to help with a non-profit of their choosing.

For her service, Lorraine decided to volunteer with Mercy Ships, a charity which operates the largest non-governmental hospital ship in the world. With a current focus on the coast of Africa, Mercy Ships provides medical procedures, services and training to communities in need.

The experience was one she wanted since childhood.

"I saw a commercial for a hospital ship when I was a child, and the idea has stuck with me ever since," she explains. "Now that my children are grown, I decided to fulfill one of my dreams. That's when I did some research and found Mercy Ships."

In 2013, Lorraine trekked to Conakry, Guinea, to join the more than 400 crew members on the Africa Mercy. She returned to the ship in 2014 to volunteer for two-and-a-half weeks in Pointe Noire, the Republic of the Congo. A fully-functioning floating hospital, the Africa Mercy stops in a port for nine to ten months at a time, and volunteers spend anywhere from two weeks to decades on board. These volunteers come with diverse skills to keep the ship running, and include physicians, nurses, teachers, housekeepers, cooks, receptionists and countless others. Schell volunteered as part of a Mercy Team, a mission group comprised of volunteers with a medical or non-medical focus. Lorraine worked to assemble, clean and pack up medical clinics that Mercy Ships set up in local communities, including dental and eye clinics and a rehabilitation center called the Hope Center.

Emboldened by her experiences with Mercy Ships, Lorraine has been contacted by Mercy Ships to join the Mercy Team at the end of May in Madagascar, where the Africa Mercy is currently docked. It’s her passion and her spirit that motivate Lorraine to continue helping those in need. "With the help of Merck's volunteer policy and support of my union, it's possible for me to volunteer extensively with Mercy Ships," she notes.

To learn more about the many ways Merck employees use their volunteer time, visit Merck Gives Back.

More about Merck Gives Back

  • Policy provides each employee with the opportunity to take up to 40 hours of paid time off each year to engage in a variety of volunteer opportunities that support eligible nonprofit organizations.
  • Merck offers a dollar-for-dollar matching gift program for active and retired U.S. and Puerto Rico Merck employees.
  • Our Dollars for Doers volunteer rewards program provides contributions to eligible organizations based on employee volunteer hours.