Monthly Archives: April 2011

Volunteer Recognition Week Profile: Samanta “Sah” Guisso

Samanta Guisso Samanta Guisso

“My name is Samanta Guisso.  I am from Brazil, and am getting a degree in Business.  I decided to volunteer at Children’s Hospital because I used to volunteer in a hospital and orphanage in Brazil; I started volunteering there when I was 13 years old.

I love kids, the energy they have, and how well they deal with big problems:  they are always so positive and full of hope.  It always feels really good to see how you can help someone have a happier day, and that’s why I volunteer: because it feels good in my heart.

I love painting, drawing and singing; I think that anything related to art can bring you spiritual peace.  I also like enjoying a good walk, or a good talk about anything.  I am very curious, and love learning from other people’s experiences.”

Thank you so much, Sah, for sharing your love of volunteerism with us!

Volunteer Recognition Week Profile: Basmah Ali

Basmah Ali Basmah Ali

Where do you volunteer, and how long have you been volunteering?

I have been an inpatient volunteer since September 2010.

What is your educational background and future career interest?

I just graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.A. in Child Psychology, and I am working to become a Certified Child Life Specialist.

What brought you to Children’s as a volunteer?

When I was researching how to become a Child Life Specialist, I saw that a lot of hospitals prefer students who have had some experience working with children in a hospital setting, so I thought that Children’s Hospital would be the perfect place to volunteer.

What kinds of things do you enjoy doing when you’re not volunteering?

I love hanging out with my friends here, and talking to my friends and family in Egypt.  I like to travel, even though I do not get to do it often.  I go to Egypt once every couple of years to see my family–which is not often enough, if you ask me!  I have also traveled to several states, and the tourist in me has a tendency to take pictures of everything in sight!  I do love being in Minnesota, though, when the weather is nice enough to take walks everywhere.

I enjoy watching movies and television (Glee and Law & Order are pretty much the best shows on-air right now).  I listen to all types of music, and am trying to learn how to play the guitar and piano simultaneously. Let’s just say that I am better at one instrument than the other–it’s not an easy task!  And now that I am out of school, reading has become fun for me again. One of my favorite pastimes, though, is relating every single bizarre or ridiculous thing that happens to me (which happens quite often) to a Seinfeld episode.I swear there have been times when I thought I definitely could have been on that show!

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

There are so many things! The people I volunteer with are so friendly and fun to be around.  I especially enjoy being around kids.  The one thing that surprised me most when I started volunteering here was to find how resilient most of the children are, considering that they are in a hospital.  Whenever I visit them, they are upbeat and filled with energy; all they want is for someone to play with them.  And who can forget the babies?  They are just too cute!

Volunteering at  Children’s Hospital has been an amazing experience so far, and I am happy to be part of such an awesome team!

Thank you so much for your great work, Basmah!  We’re so happy to have you on our team, too!

Volunteer Recognition Week Profile: Abby Pansch

Abby Pansch Abby Pansch

“Hi!  My name is Abby Pansch.  I’m a senior at Southwest High School in south Minneapolis, where I love being involved in a variety of activities.  I enjoy taking part in Student Council, Green Team (an environmental group) and, of course, volunteering at Children’s.

Next year, I will be attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I plan to study either Community & Nonprofit Leadership, Environmental Studies, or possibly both!  I’m excited to explore a new city, meet new people, and continue learning in a challenging environment.  I know that the skills I have gained from volunteering at Children’s will help me in my future plans, whatever they may be!”

Thank you so much for all of your amazing volunteer work here at Children’s, Abby!  We’ll miss you next year, but wish you the very best in your college career!

Volunteer Recognition Week Profile: Trish Walsh

Trish WalshTrish Walsh 

Where do you volunteer, and how long have you been volunteering?

I have been an inpatient volunteer for the past six months. 

What is your educational background/career?

My interests, career, and most recent education has been in supporting parents’ dreams for their children.  I have an M.Ed in Family Education with a parent education license.  Much of my paid and unpaid work surrounds supporting family development.

What brought you to Children’s as a volunteer?

I had never worked in health care before, so I was curious about how my commitment to families could play out in a hospital environment.  I have to say that this has been a fantastic match for me! Supporting children’s social and emotional needs while they are sick has tapped my compassion and intuition at a profound level.

What kinds of things do you enjoy doing when you’re not volunteering?

I still very much enjoy play dates with my own friends. I enjoy learning more and more about healthy food and living a healthier life. I enjoy anything outdoors, such as walking, hiking, and biking.  I like to read and talk about books. I love to travel to new places and continually learn about our human experience. I also find my teenage daughter fascinating.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

Like many people who volunteer at Children’s, I enjoy holding babies!  I also enjoy being paired up with an energetic patient–I think it’s a joy to see children on a normal developmental trajectory and it makes me happy when I can create the space and limits for them to experience that.

Thank you so much, Trish, for creating so many enjoyable experiences for our patients here!

Volunteer Recognition Week Profile: Sarah Beahm

Sarah Beahm Sarah Beahm

Where do you volunteer, and how long have you been volunteering?

I have been volunteering on the 3rd floor inpatient unit in St. Paul for a little over two years.

What is your educational/career background?

I went to college at the University of Kansas and received my Bachelor of Architecture degree.  Now I work at a nonprofit in development and fundraising.

What first brought you to Children’s as a volunteer?

I volunteered at a children’s hospital in St. Louis when I was in high school.  I was the book cart volunteer, and was able to deliver books to patients in their rooms.  When I moved to the Twin Cities, I was looking for a way to get involved.  I love children and remembered enjoying my time as a volunteer at the children’s hospital in St. Louis, so I decided to apply for a similar position again!

What kinds of things do you enjoy doing when you’re not volunteering?

I enjoy spending time with husband and our two dogs, biking, skiing, gardening, watching KU basketball, traveling, and finding new & delicious restaurants around town.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

Spending time with the children.  The kids are always so full of joy and happiness, no matter what is going on around them, and they can bring a smile to anyone’s face.  I began volunteering thinking that I might be able to bring a little bit of joy into a child’s life.  I never realized how much joy they would bring to mine.

Thank you, Sarah, for spreading joy to children through your volunteerism at Children’s!

Where Are They Now?: Math Teacher/Future Physician Anya Dmytrenko

Anya (in pink shirt & glasses) and her students

“My experience at Children’s Hospital instilled in me a love for working with kids and their families. The patients at Children’s taught me resilience, their families taught me unconditional love, and the staff taught me the impact that a caring group of passionate individuals can make on a child’s life. Above all, volunteering at Children’s cultivated in me an enduring love for the broader community in which this hospital stands.

Today, I am a corps member with Teach For America, a national nonprofit organization that trains and sends recent college graduates to work in low-income communities in an effort to close the nation’s achievement gap. I teach high school math in a neighborhood very close to Children’s, serving students ages 17 to 21. At the beginning of the year, several of my students could not perform operations such as addition and subtraction. Today, they are solving and graphing equations. I love my students, am very proud of them, and feel truly lucky to have such a rewarding job.

I can honestly say that each interaction I had at Children’s – be it with a patient, a fellow volunteer, a nurse, or a family member – strengthened my core values and shaped me into the person that I am today. I Teach For America because our kids are our stars and our future. To me, it only makes sense to invest in them and in their well-being. Although I ultimately aspire to attend medical school, I hope to come right back to Children’s to be part of the collective effort to provide excellent medical care for all members of this amazing, vibrant community.”

Thank you, Anya, for teaching us about the difference that caring individuals like you can make in kids’ lives!  Your students are fortunate to have you, as will your future patients someday!

Educational Opportunity: Music Therapy Presentation!

We now interrupt Volunteer Recognition Week to notify you of the following educational presentation, happening next week on both Children’s Hospital campuses!

Title:  “Improving Patient Experiences & Outcomes Through Music Therapy”

Presenters:  Sarah Newberry, Erinn Danielson, & Katie Schwartz (all three are Children’s board-certified music therapists)

When & Where:   Monday, April 18, 12-1 pm, Education Center (Mpls.), OR Wednesday, April 20, 12-1, Room L-100 (St. Paul)

This activity has been designed to meet the MN Board of Nursing continuing education requirements, as well as the continuing education requirements of the Minnesota Board of Social Work & Child Life Council for social workers and child life specialists.

Please join us to learn about the amazing ways in which music can make a difference for pediatric patients & families!

Volunteer Recognition Week Profile: April Becker

April BeckerApril & her adorable niece!

Where do you volunteer, and how long have you been volunteering?

I started as a volunteer at the Welcome Desk in October 2010, and have recently switched to spending time on the inpatient floors with some amazing kiddos!

What is your educational background & future career interest?

I graduated from the College of St. Benedict with a Psychology/Communications degree. Since then, I have worked in a variety of settings and jobs, such as teaching English abroad in Japan, working as a behavioral therapist in homes & schools for children with autism, teaching children’s fitness, nannying, and more!

I have currently decided to narrow my interests a bit, and have returned to school again to pursue a nursing degree. I’d love to someday be able to work with kids and their families in a setting such as Children’s!

Why did you decide to volunteer, and what do you enjoy about it?

A friend of mine volunteered at Children’s for many years and always had such wonderful things to say about his experience.  He told me that I would love it as well, and encouraged me to start.  It’s been such a great experience so far!

Volunteering at Children’s has also been a fantastic learning experience for me as I have been deciding whether or not to change my career path towards the health care field.   I have enjoyed getting a first-hand look at what goes on behind the scenes in a hospital, which has been eye-opening for me.  Not only have I felt like an integral, important part of the hospital team, but am amazed by how warm and helpful everyone around has been to help make this experience valuable for all involved.  And the kids…how can you not enjoy hanging out with them?!

What kinds of things do you enjoy doing when you’re not volunteering?

I love simply enjoying all that life has to offer when not at Children’s…I love too many things to mention them all!  You can find me outdoors soaking in fresh air and sunshine (when it’s not -20 degrees!); running, biking and blading around local trails and lakes; catching some live music around town; trying out new ethnic cuisines; reading through travel books and planning new & exciting adventure getaways; getting dirty in the kitchen brewing up new recipes; grooving my feet on the dance floor; playing in the snow; connecting with friends, near and far; hanging out with my lovely family… and oh-so-much more!

Thank you, April, for the difference that you make in the lives of Children’s patients and families!  Your work is appreciated!

Volunteer Recognition Week: Words of Appreciation from Staff Member Donel “DJ” Jones

DJ Jones Donel “DJ” Jones

If you’ve ever called Children’s main number or stopped to ask for help at the 1st or 2nd floor desks, it’s likely that you’ve encountered DJ’s smiling face!   DJ has been assisting patients, families, staff, and volunteers at the Children’s Welcome Center for the past eight years, and has been working directly with volunteers since 2005.

When asked about his favorite part of having volunteer support, DJ replied, “The fact that they are kind, people-friendly, and hardworking.”

We then asked DJ if he had any particular stories to share about volunteers.  His response?  “Yes.  There is one who helps out with anything and everything, even tasks that are not the responsibility of volunteers.  She is superb with the children and they love her!  Her name is April.”

Thanks so much for taking the time to highlight April, DJ!  (P.S.  Check out our next blog post to hear from April in her own words!

Where Are They Now?: Child Life Specialist Amy VerBurg

“My name is Amy VerBurg, and I am from River Falls, WI.  During my junior year of college at UW-Eau Claire (after switching my major several times), I heard of a profession called Child Life. Knowing that I was drawn to the healthcare field and loved working with children, I decided to explore what Child Life was all about. Not knowing where to start, I began exploring volunteer options and stumbled across an amazing opportunity with Children’s Hospitals & Clinics of Minnesota, the Child Life Volunteer Exposure Experience! Volunteering at Children’s not only provided me with the amazing experience of working with children in hospitals, but it also gave me the opportunity to explore a potential career! After graduating, I was accepted for a Child Life Internship at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital. Shortly after completing my internship, I passed the Child Life certification exam and was hired as a Child Life Specialist in the Emergency Department at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. I spent a little over a year at Mayo and just recently accepted a new position back at the U of MN Amplatz Children’s Hospital working with kids going through bone marrow transplants. I love my career as a Child Life Specialist and am so thankful to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics for giving me the experience I needed to get where I am today!”

Amy VerBurg Amy VerBurg, CCLS

Thank you, Amy, for sharing your time & enthusiasm with us!  We’re so proud of your journey into the Child Life field!