Our volunteers are an integral part of the hospitals we support. They play a host of different roles throughout the hospital to support both patients and staff in their healing work. But sometimes, the most important role they play is as a healing presence. John Hall, has served as a volunteer at the Children’s Blood & Cancer Center (CBCC), and offered the following anecdotes that beautiful capture the impact volunteers make on our patients and their families:

“I am playing with a little girl who is sitting in my lap in the CBCC. She is so fatigued by chemo she doesn’t have the strength to play so she’s sitting in my lap and telling me how to play with the doll house.  Later she tells me her dolly is sick.  I go get the toy medical kit and she listens to its heart.  Just teasing I say, “Gracie (not her name), can you hear anything?” Nothing.  Later on I ask, “Gracie, can you hear anything?” Still nothing from her as she continues to listen.  Finally, I ask, “Gracie, can you hear anything yet?”  She takes off the toy stethoscope, leans over and whispers into my ear almost in an attempt not to embarrass and says, “You have to pretend.”  A child’s simple answer to the question I had never figured out how to ask.”

 

“So, I am walking in the tunnel that separates the professional building where the CBCC connects with the hospital with a young mother whose  daughter has raced ahead of us because she knows all to well the way to the day surgery clinic where she going for her final lumbar.  Just casually as the two of us are walking I mention how impressed I am she got her daughter to all those early morning appointments, kept her family together, that both her daughters were healthy and happy.  That she had actually done it.  It was over.  She stopped abruptly, turned to me and wept like a child.  I held her until she cried enough.”

 

“It was Christmas Eve day.  The little girl I took to the day surgery clinic from the CBCC was so afraid Santa couldn’t find her if she had to go into the hospital.  I raced home, gathered up a bag full of beanie bears out of my stash, got a card, put her name on it, wrote on the inside “Of course I know where you are.  Be sure to share some of these with your sister.” forged Santa Claus’ signature, and got it all back to her nurses before she got out of treatment.  Made a little girl happy and her nurses cry for Christmas. Just don’t get any better than that.”

 

“The best for last.  Currently, I’ve been holding a very, very sick little girl in the NICU for several weeks.  One of her nurses spilled the beans to her mother about me holding her for hours.  As I am leaving I poke my head in the door and say hi.  Her mother looked at me and says, ‘Sir, you can hold my daughter anytime you want to.'”

 

Through simply being present, volunteers make a positive impact heath and hope of our patients and families. As John puts it, “I guess sometimes being a volunteer means you have to run toward pain, not away from it.”

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