Choosing Children’s: Becky Petro

January 28th, 2015

Becky’s Journey to Volunteering at Children’s:

“I have had a personal connection to Children’s since 1991, when my son was born with a serious heart defect (Tetralogy of Fallot) and other complex medical and cognitive issues. Zach had his first open-heart surgery at Children’s-Minneapolis when he was 4 months old to repair the defect. The surgery was successful but he developed a leaky pulmonary valve (which is common) and underwent a second open-heart surgery at age 18 to replace this.

As a child with multiple medical issues, Zach returned to Children’s for a variety of procedures and treatments over the years, but it’s the surgeries that we remember most vividly. As the frightened parents of a child about to undergo major surgery my husband and I were calmed, encouraged and educated by the amazing nurses, physicians, child life specialists and volunteers we met in the hospital.

I feel that my experiences with my son have provided me with sensitivity, compassion and a unique understanding of what families at Children’s are going through. That is what led me to volunteer at Children’s-St. Paul in the Child Life Zone.

Volunteering in the Child Life Zone, and most recently training the new volunteers, allows me to support the important work of the Child Life staff while also supporting the families — from playing basketball with a sibling who needs to blow off some steam to giving a young patient a pedicure, or visiting with the parents and seeing them relax for a bit. If I can make anyone smile or provide comfort or encouragement for even a short while, I feel like I have made a difference.”

Red-Vested Rockstar: Aurora Sontoya

January 22nd, 2015


Children’s Volunteer Services presents: Red-Vested Rockstar!

Meet Aurora!

1.   Why she ROCKS?!

 “I started volunteering because I love working with children; they are so much fun! Whether it’s talking about their interests or doing art projects together, there is never a dull moment. I am currently a toddler teacher and just finished my Bachelors degree in early childhood studies. I look forward to pursuing a career in the child life field!” 

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

 “My favorite thing to do outside of volunteering would be hanging out with my family! We like to do everything from visiting museums to outdoor music festivals in the summer time. We are always on the go! I have also been a Mexican Folkloric dancer since I was six years old, my team travels all around Minnesota doing various performances!” 

 3.   Do you have any kids or pets of your own?

 “I do! I have a 4-year-old son named Elijah. He loves drawing and skateboarding and of course…ice cream! He is my best buddy :)

 4.   If you could create a new candy bar, what would be in it and what would you name it?

 “My favorite candy bar, without a doubt, would need to have tons of peanut butter and be covered in chocolate… I would add sprinkles on top of it as well. It would be called ‘the P.B. sprinkle bar!’ and would be wrapped in shiny pink paper.”

 5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

 “I don’t have one specific favorite volunteer story; each day I volunteer is such a fun and new experience. I absolutely love sitting down and doing art and crafts with children. I learn so much about them and from them. Kids have a unique way of expressing themselves through art and I love to watch the process and outcome! I would have to say the best feeling ever is walking into a room and seeing the child light up because they recognize our red vests and know we are there to bring them toys, games, or just be a friend to hang out with. Volunteering at Children’s has been the most rewarding experience I have ever been a part of!” 

Thank you, Aurora, for spreading your creative spirit to the patients we serve!

Red-Vested Rockstar: Farhia Osman

January 9th, 2015

Red-Vested Rockstar- Meet Farhia!

1.   Why she ROCKS?! 

“I’ve wanted to become a pediatrician since I was eight years old, so I thought helping out at Children’s would be a great way to solidify my career interests and gain experience in the field. I love to volunteer and help others as much as I can; I am super friendly and love to smile, so whenever you see me, please say ‘hi’!”

2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

“I really love to read. Over the summer, I usually spend my time reading books. It is a fun way to pass time and helps me experience things I have never done, just by reading a character’s story.”

3.   Do you have any kids or pets of your own?

 “No pets or kids, but I do have four younger siblings. Also, I used to have a pet kitten named Minnie.”

 4.   If you could create a new candy bar, what would be in it and what would you name it?

“If I could make a candy bar it would contain peanuts, caramel, marshmallows, cashews, and walnuts, all encased in dark chocolate. I would call it ‘Caramel-Nut Delight’.”

5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

“I once played the game ‘Life’ for three hours straight! It was super fun; we even made up our own version of the game to keep it interesting.”

 You brighten the days of our patients when you are here, Farhia! Thank you!

Choosing Children’s: Laurie Schmitz

December 19th, 2014



Laurie’s Journey to Volunteering at Children’s:

 “After retiring from Children’s-St. Paul 3 years ago, I am back volunteering in the Emergency Department (ED) as a greeter/guide.  This role gives me a lot of rewards:  smiles, hugs, and many sincere ‘thank-yous’ from staff, parents and families.  At Children’s retiree celebration, Volunteer Services invited interested retirees to join Children’s volunteer team. After several awesome shifts in the ED, I found the perfect match for me. 

Greeting people is only a small part of my role.  I walk around, making families feel that someone cares, and try to stop problems before they start.  Seeing someone do this makes patients & families feel as though they are not forgotten.  I also give directions and answer general questions so that the nurses can use their time for patient assessments. Some days, a lot of people need help with directions to clinics and/or United Hospital.

Besides volunteering at Children’s, I am a student (again!) at the U of M.  In spring 2015, I will be a Ph.D. candidate in the English department:  I am so excited! The cost of my class in minimal, as MN has a law in the books that helps senior citizens attend classes. At the U of M, if one audits a class, there is no charge: if a class is taken for a grade, the cost is $10 per credit.  (Of course, books and lab supplies are extra.) This is a great opportunity for adults over 62 years of age to attend classes and get a degree, or just enjoy subjects that they are interested in.

I thought that retirement would be dull and boring.  Instead, I find that coming to Children’s keeps me young and springy.  This holiday season, I wish everyone the joy, happiness and fun that I have!”

Thank you, Laurie! Your support in the ED is so helpful to patients, families and staff!


Volunteer Services Welcomes Melissa Moffitt!

December 5th, 2014


Volunteer Services is excited to welcome our newest Child Life Liaison: Melissa Moffitt!

 What better way to get to know Melissa than have her answer some fun questions:


What excites you most about working at Children’s?

“I love coming to work at a place where everyone is so passionate about helping children and their families! Being a part of an organization that is built by a community of people working together to benefit our patients and their families is incredible and I see that play out every single day here at Children’s – it is truly inspiring!”

Favorite thing to do outside of work?

“ I love to be outside! When it’s warm out, I like being at the lake, boating, camping, and hiking and in the winter I like snowshoeing, ice skating, and skiing!”

Something unique or interesting about you?

“Over the past few years I have really gotten into hot yoga and go several times a week. It’s good exercise and it’s great for the mind – the warmth in the winter is amazing, too!”

Favorite Superhero?

“ I always think of the Incredibles family when I think of superheroes – Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Dash, Violet (my favorite!), and Jack-Jack! Such a fun movie and great superheroes abound! “

Do you have any pets?

“I do! I have a 7 year old dog named Lincoln (he’s the cutie in my picture!) who I adopted when I was in undergrad. We aren’t sure of his breed, but he has the best temperament and loves people!”

What word comes to mind when you think of a volunteer?

“AMAZING! Really, I feel super lucky to be working so closely with all of the wonderful volunteers here at Children’s – they truly make a huge difference in the lives of the patients and families treated here.”

If you could create a new candy bar, what would be in it and what would you name it?

“My favorite candy bar ingredients are chocolate, caramel, ice cream, and cookies – so I would put those ingredients all together to create the Creamy Caramel Bliss Bar!”


Melissa, we are thrilled to have you join our team! Thank you for all the support you provide to patients, families, volunteers and staff!


Red-Vested Rockstar: Eric Jeske

November 14th, 2014

Children’s Volunteer Services presents: Red-Vested Rockstar!

Meet Eric!

1.   Why he ROCKS?!

“Three years ago I was on the way to a Minnesota Wild game a few days before Christmas…  as I sat in rush hour along 35E I noticed the Children’s Hospital building and noticed a light go off in a room.  In the back of my head I was concerned a sick child may miss Christmas while in the hospital and got to thinking…  I want to spend my free time volunteering at the Children’s Hospital”

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

 “I spend a majority of my free time with my Husky puppy, along with playing Soccer and Kickball”

 3.   Do you have any kids or pets of your own?

 “Dog – Husky – One year old”

 4.   If you could create a new candy bar, what would be in it and what would you name it?

 “I’m not a fan of candy…  so I will stick to Pizza!”

 5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

 “A few years ago, I spent every Tuesday for six months with a new born.  I, still to this day, hold onto the memory of our time together.  She went thru so much while here at the hospital. On our final day together, I walked down the hall to see six nurses gathered around her.  She noticed me coming towards her and lit up with the biggest smile ever!  I was happy to know she was healthy again and going home.  At the same time, sad…as she was my Tuesday entertainment with big blue eyes and always smiling!”

You brighten the days of our patients when you are here, Eric! Thank you for your contributions to Children’s!


Red Vested Rockstar: Claire Vandrovec

October 31st, 2014

Children’s Volunteer Services presents: Red-Vested Rockstar!

Meet Claire- Volunteer Services Intern!

1.   Why she ROCKS?!

Claire is a senior at the University of Minnesota. She will be graduating in December with a Bachelor of Science in Child Psychology. “I am the Minneapolis Campus’ volunteer department intern till the 18th of December! I decided on taking a closer look into Volunteer Management because of my experience with volunteering, and I wanted to learn what the job is all about. Working with the Volunteer Department at Children’s Hospital especially perked my interest because I have a great passion for kids of all ages, I have always been interested in pediatrics, and I love volunteering! I am also a volunteer at a non-profit called the Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery. I have been there for about two years and it has positively affected my life in many ways!”

2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

“I love to go on walks around the lakes in Minneapolis, especially Lake Harriet and Lake Nokomis. I also like to hang out with friends, eat burgers (my favorite food), do arts and crafts of any sorts, watch scary movies, and trying new things (food, activities, etc.). Most recently, I have been learning to frolf (frisbee-golf) which has been fun and surprisingly challenging.”

3.   Do you have any kids or pets of your own?

“I have a 6 year old Wauzer (Westie-Schnauzer mix) named Ollie, and a 10(?) year old cat named Bill. Bill was a stray, and my family took him in about 6 years ago, so we have no idea how old he really is.”

4.   If you could create a new candy bar, what would be in it and what would you name it?

“I would create a candy bar with a pumpkin cheesecake filling, with an outside shell made of white chocolate. Its name would be ‘Pumpkin Goodness’.”

5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

“I have only been with Children’s for a short time, but I have already had many great experiences! One of these experiences was with a baby in the Special Care Nursery. This particular baby slept best when being held, so I got to rock him for two peaceful hours. The next day, I came back to help out with him again. He was crying when I got there, but the minute he was put into my arms, he fell asleep instantly…and I got to rock him for another two hours! Another great experience I had was in the Sibling Play Area. I got to hang out with an awesome school-age girl, and she taught me how to make a snake and ice cream cone out of beads and string. I had so much fun hanging out with her that I stayed an extra hour and a half past the end of my shift!”

You brighten the days of our patients when you are here, Claire! Thank you for your contributions to Children’s!

Red-Vested Rockstar: Chonhanh Vuvan

October 17th, 2014

Red-Vested Rockstar!

Meet Chonhanh!

1.   Why she ROCKS?!

“I got into volunteering because I absolutely love working with kids. I have always loved working with kids; from nannying my little cousins to coaching kids how to figure skate at Bielenberg Sport Center. Although I’m only 17, I want to pursue a medical career and become a nurse and later a pediatrician.”


2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

“I figure skate almost every other day; it’s my favorite sport/hobby!  I love to travel, hang with friends and families, attend sporting events and in the spring, run track.”


3.   Do you have any kids or pets of your own?

“I’m only in high school so no kids yet! My family has a fish tank of around 50 little guppies though.”


4.   If you could create a new candy bar, what would be in it and what would you name it?

“I would create a candy with caramel, marshmallow, peanuts, s’mores cracker and a chocolate coat. I’d name it Galaxy Heaven.”


5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

“There are so many fun memories! I love playing in the playroom with the patients or the patient’s siblings. The Child Life Zone is always fun, especially doing arts and crafts. Holding babies is another one of my favorite things to do!”


Thanks for volunteering, Chonhanh! Your passion for Children’s (and kids!) is evident in the work that you do!




Red-Vested Rockstar: Ally Fuher

October 3rd, 2014


Children’s Volunteer Services presents: Red-Vested Rockstar!

 Meet Ally!

1.   Why she ROCKS?!

“I always knew I wanted to volunteer at  a hospital and work with children. I chose to volunteer at Children’s specifically because my sister had a ventricular septal defect when she was younger and was treated here. Ever since, my parents have talked about how evident it was that the staff really supported and cared about the whole family! I wanted to come see for myself how great of a place Children’s is!”

2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

“Outside of volunteering, I love to spend my Saturdays at TCF Bank Stadium (Go Gophers!)”

3.   Do you have any kids or pets of your own?

“I have a 2 year old yellow Labrador named Mylo!”

4.   If you could create a new candy bar, what would be in it and what would you name it?

“Since I have a weakness for chocolate, I would probably have Kit-Kats stuffed with Andes Mints,  and put it all on a stick!  Because I love the Great Minnesota Get-Together so much, I would probably name it “Kit-Kandes on a stick.”

5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

“I think the  Sibling Play Area epitomizes Children’s family-centered care. One of the best memories in the past year would have to be playing outside on the playground in Sibling Play! The kids are so creative… in one afternoon I was a mermaid who had to avoid the hot lava and jumping unicorns!  It was really fun!”

Thank you for your ability to ‘play along’ and encourage creativity! Your enthusiasm is evident in the volunteer work you do! 



Red-Vested Rockstar: Megan Johnson

September 19th, 2014

Children’s Volunteer Services presents: Red-Vested Rockstar!

Meet Megan!

1.   Why she ROCKS?!

 Megan is a volunteer on our St. Paul inpatient units, and has earned over 105 volunteer hours to date! She has a contagious smile and ability to help kids focus on being… kids (not their hospital stay)!

 “I love working with children of all ages! I also plan to get into the healthcare field in the future and thought that Children’s would provide an awesome experience as well as the exposure that I desired.” 

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

 “I like to spend time with family and friends. I love being outdoors, attending sporting events and traveling to warm places.” 

3.   Do you have any kids or pets of your own?

 “I do not have any children yet, or any pets at home… but I did have a pet rabbit in college named Niblet! I also love seeing the PAWH team come in at the end of my weekly volunteer shift!” 

 4.   If you could create a new candy bar, what would be in it and what would you name it?

 “I would create a s’mores candy bar! The bar would contain a graham cracker crust, a gooey marshmallow and chocolate filling, and graham cracker crumbles on top!”  

 5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

 “Every week there is a new experience and opportunity to help make a patient, sibling of a patient, or family member’s day at Children’s Hospital! Whether it is playing a game with a child, sitting bedside while a parent grabs a coffee, or simply finding a family a movie to watch, it is very rewarding to make their stay with us as pleasant and comfortable as possible.” 

 Thank you, Megan, for providing incredible service and care to our patients and families!