Kathy Burns pushes a cart through the halls of the Beeghly campus every Monday morning delivering the day’s mail as part of her volunteer service on the Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley campus.
But on this day the Boardman resident’s mail cart, adorned with a stuffed bear at the bow dressed in U.S. mail attire, served an additional purpose; making a patient care assist, if you will.
“I was walking past ophthalmology when I saw a little 6-year-old boy who didn’t want to go in for his appointment, and his father clearly had his hands full trying to convince him,” she said. “So I gave the boy my mail cart and encouraged him to push it inside so the bear could go in first.”
The trick worked, and the boy slowly made his way inside the room to the reception desk with the helpful assistance of the stuffed bear and a quick-thinking hospital volunteer.
It’s those unexpected moments when you can help a parent or make a child smile that keeps volunteers like Burns coming back, she said.
“The kids are fun, and even when they’re not having their best day they’re still enjoyable,” Burns said.
April is National Volunteer Month, and we’re proud to recognize the hundreds of selfless individuals who serve their community by volunteering at Akron Children’s Hospital.
Burns is part of a group of 4 women who volunteer at the Beeghly campus every Monday morning. They do whatever’s necessary to supplement hospital staff, including visiting patient rooms and the ER to hand-pick and deliver donated items such as blankets, toys, books and games, and interact with patients by reading stories or doing crafts.
Judy Redig of Boardman and Coleen Dunchak of Canfield are retired teachers who’ve been volunteering at Children’s for more than 4 years each.
“I miss reading to kids, so this is my little fix for that,” said Redig, a former first grade teacher.
“As a teacher you get those light-bulb moments when a child grasps a concept that you’ve been teaching; it’s kind of like that here when you connect with a patient, turn their emotions around and get them to smile,” Dunchak said.
Sue Heher, supervisor of Volunteer Services at the Beeghly campus, manages more than 120 regularly assigned volunteers from ages 18 to 90. Each is required to make a 1-year commitment and work 3- to 4-hour shifts.
“To be a good volunteer here you’ve got to have a pleasant personality, a willingness to serve and do anything you’re asked to do, and have a sense of commitment to follow through,” she said.
The volunteer application process, Heher said, can be somewhat rigorous, as it requires professional references, immunizations, an online orientation and the purchase of a blue smock.
“But because of this process we get the best of the best,” Heher said.
If you’re interested in volunteer opportunities at the Beeghly campus, call the volunteer office at 330-746-8352.