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Peggy Hodgson (right) celebrates her 100th birthday and 30 years of volunteering at Banner Thunderbird Hospital. (KTAR Photo/Bob McClay)

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A big party was thrown Wednesday at Banner Thunderbird Hospital in Glendale.

The celebration of Peggy Hodgson's 100th birthday also marks her 30th anniversary of volunteering at the hospital. Dozens of friends, family and co-workers surprised her by showing for the surprise party.

After working for a telephone company in New York for 45 years, Hodgson and her husband, George, retired and moved to Arizona in 1974. George has since passed away.

In 1984, she started volunteering at the hospital at the age of 70.

"I had always wanted to volunteer at a hospital," said Hodgson, adding she likes to help and pray for people.

She started first in the emergency room, where she made beds and took care of children while their parents were being treated.

"They would always say ĎWe're hungry, we want to eat!' So I would take them to the employee lounge to go get breakfast or something."

People at Wednesday's ceremony laughed as Hodgson told them that her job was also to make sure that the kids didn't start playing on the elevator. She said that was pretty tough when kids were bored and looking for something to do.

These days, she's doing work in the office.

"I fill out a bunch of paperwork for the doctors," she said. Hodgson then laughed when she said "At least I think it's for the doctors!"

She works one day a week, and has no plans to quit.

"As long as God wants me to stay on this earth, I want to stay here (at this hospital)," she said. Then she joked "If anything happens to me, I want to be HERE, not home."

She thinks that if she's at the hospital when any trouble comes, the doctors will be there to help her and God will give her even more time on this earth.

Her secret to a long life?

"I don't eat much, and I don't drink," said Hodgson. "But then she quipped "Come to think of it, maybe I should drink!"

But she also credits her long life to lots of dancing and lots of prayer.

Bob McClay, Reporter

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