Doctor in the House — Ask Dr. MannyVolunteers in America

Today, as we hear about the terrible tragedy of the miners in West Virginia, we can only imagine the significant despair that all involved must be feeling. You'll hear lots of clichés used on TV and radio as people try to put what's happened into words. And often, those clichés can be annoying, but sometimes, we are all at a loss for words. The emotions are bubbling, erupting, and receding — all dealing with the situation the way they know how. There is no one uniform way to react to something like the West Virginia tragedy.

From families to rescue workers, the long hours of waiting and trying to save those brave and hard working men will forever change that community. The local church, a sanctuary at the best of times, became a temple of hope, a place for the townsfolk to gather away from the media and lean on each other. One thing has always been noted about mining communities: they are tight-knit and they take care of each other.

Voluntarism has always kept hope alive.

As 2006 opened, I was fortuned to report on a story that was truly inspiring. Our brave American soldiers during a search mission in Iraq had stumbled upon a small child with a deadly congenital lesion (spinal bifida — Baby Noor, who is a 3-month-old baby girl with the grave health problem, received one of the most noticeable, yet understated qualities of our military: compassion and care.

Almost immediately, a human chain of volunteers began to emerge. The men and women of the Georgia Army National Guard's 48th Brigade Combat Team began to notify superiors and family members, and very quickly, added more volunteers to get this child (congenital opening of the spine at birth) transported to a children's hospital in Georgia for a surgical repair.

Whether it is citizens donating blood to save a firefighter in NY, or volunteers helping hurricane victims in New Orleans, it seems that WE THE PEOPLE cannot do without volunteers.

Thousands of people volunteer their time and talents to important causes. Many hospitals in this country would not be able to function if they did not count on the support of volunteers. They not only contribute to the functions of many hospitals, but also play a significant role in the healing process of patients by providing companionship and emotional support.

The tragedy in West Virginia is still fresh and emotions are raw. And after all the cameras and reporters are gone from West Virginia, it will be up to the families to mend their wounds. And you can bet your bottom dollar there will be volunteers there to land a hand and gently remind them that, as Abe Lincoln put it so succinctly, "this too shall pass."

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit