And I couldn’t let National Volunteer Week pass without writing about the dedicated corps of individuals who tirelessly give their time to our institution and patients.
More than 1,500 strong, our volunteers donated more than 112,000 hours of service last year at our Akron and Beeghly campuses. Our volunteers provide a range of support – from sitting with patients while families are away, staffing the information desks, assisting with patient discharges, to providing creative outlets for our patients, raising money for the hospital’s services and programs, and much more.
This week, photographer Lew Stamp captured volunteers Donna and Paul Swain, of Fairlawn, painting colorful spring images on the bridge between our Locust building and the main hospital. Together, the Swains have donated 4,018 hours of their time on art projects around the hospital.
Donna is the artist of the pair. (Paul takes care of the art cart and paints the grass or snow.) She started volunteering her creative talents at Akron Children’s in 1978, when a fellow artist at the Cuyahoga Valley Art Center asked her to help.
When volunteer training specialist, Ken Rudisell, asked Donna what has kept her volunteering these past 33 years, she told him: “It’s the children’s responses and seeing their reaction to the art.”
Donna also spoke about how rewarding it is to spend a few moments with each parent and child who walk across the bridge while she’s creating the mural.
When Donna and Paul are asked, “Do you paint for the kids?” they always respond: “Oh yes, we paint for all the kids – clear up until 90 years old – little kids and big kids.”
Donna revealed that her most memorable project dates back to 1988-1989 during the hospital’s Centennial Construction.
She painted life-sized teddy bears on the giant construction fence, including bright and cheerful doctor bears, nurse bears and even an OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) bear. While her bridge murals take two weeks to complete, this bear of a project took more than 30 days.