Monthly Archives: April 2011

Volunteer Recognition Week Profile: Vince Opheim


Vince, volunteering abroad at an orphanage in Romania

Where do you volunteer, and how long have you been volunteering at Children’s?

I float to all of the impatient floors, and have been volunteering for 8 years.

What is your educational background and future career interest?

I have completed some college, but decided to take a little break. I want to eventually become a School Counselor or Child Social Worker.  Just as long as I work with kids, it does not matter.

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

When I worked for Old Navy, I worked with another Children’s volunteer who gave me an application that I never filled out. I ended up having to do volunteer work later as a requirement for one of my college classes.  I thought that since I love working with kids and had spent a lot of time here when I was younger, Children’s would be the best place for me.

“When I’m not volunteering, I like to…”

  • Watch UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) bouts
  • Run
  • Hang out with friends
  • Watch Minnesota Twins baseball
  • Laugh!

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

Everything from the oohing and aahing of an infant, to a giggle from a toddler, to a laugh from a teenager. I enjoy the opportunities that I receive from volunteering: I get to get beat playing Mario Kart, play house, watch Elmo for a few hours, or wear a tiara while riding a tricycle down the hall.  (Editor’s Note:  We’d like a picture of this, please!) The fact that I am brightening a day for someone makes it all worthwhile. The fact that I get the opportunity to do what I love to do also makes it all worthwhile.

pink-bunny-suit         RalphieOriginal

P.S.  In his spare time, Vince also likes to impersonate Peter Billingsley from “A Christmas Story”…can you guess the real Ralphie?? :)

Thank you so much, Vince, for sharing your contagious enthusiasm & humor with us!

Volunteer Recognition Week Profile: Hueyling Chen

hl-portrait Hueyling Chen

“I have been interested in health and human anatomy since I was a young child.  I remember watching a television program on open-heart surgery when I was five years old: I was amazed to watch the doctors stop the heart, reattach the blood vessels, then start the heart again. This was literally unbelievable!

Despite my early interest in health care, I also loved music, and in my teenage years, decided to pursue a career in music (piano performance and music composition). Music has been a huge part of my life, and I have been teaching piano for many years.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to the realization that I don’t want to teach piano for the rest of my life. I really do like teaching, but teaching piano gets very repetitive.

When I considered other career options several years ago, I realized that health care would be perfect for me.  The health care field is fascinating, quick-paced, and challenging.  I like working with people, and I like learning new things.

Recently, I was accepted to the Master of Nursing program at the University of Minnesota for the fall of 2011. My ultimate goal is to become a family nurse practitioner and work with immigrant communities in Minnesota. I’m looking forward to taking the next step towards this goal when I begin the nursing program this fall.”

Thank you, Hueyling, for sharing your passion for health care with us!

Volunteer Recognition Week Profile: Cheryl Medintz

Cheryl Medintz Cheryl Medintz

Cheryl has been volunteering at Children’s-St. Paul since 2008.  She has been volunteering at the Welcome Center for 2 years, and volunteered on the inpatient units for 1 year.  Cheryl is currently retired, and previously worked  in commercial banking and advertising in Chicago & Minneapolis.  She says, “I always loved being around children, and once I retired, began to look for opportunities in Volunteer Services.” 

In her spare time, Cheryl enjoys playing the piano, reading, word games, traveling, and spending time with friends.   Her favorite parts of volunteering are “the interactions that I have with the children and meeting new people.”

Thank you, Cheryl, for your volunteerism and dedication to Children’s!

Where Are They Now?: Occupational Therapy Student Alex Neville

“Hi! My name is Alex Neville and I am in graduate school at Creighton University, working towards my doctorate in occupational therapy. I participated in the Child Life Exposure Experience in January 2008 and fell in love with Children’s Hospital, so I came back that summer and volunteered again! During my time at Children’s, I discovered a lot about myself and my love for working in a hospital setting. When I began my internship, I had no idea what occupational therapy was and how therapists worked to help patients get back to doing daily things (occupations) that many of us take for granted. From getting dressed to even playing, occupational therapists help patients re-learn how to do these seemingly simple things or learn to do tasks in new ways. After sitting in on one therapy session, I knew that this was the career path that I wanted to pursue. I am over halfway done with my program now, and am looking forward to graduation in December 2012. Omaha is great, but I definitely would like to get back to the Twin Cities after graduation to work in one of the fantastic hospitals in the area. Who knows…maybe Children’s will need another OT then!”

Alex Neville & brother In Alex’s own words:  “This is a picture of my younger brother David and I at my white coat ceremony.  Goofing around, he thought that he could become an OT just by wearing my all things in life, I guess career choices (and coats!) aren’t ‘one size fits all!'”

Thank you, Alex, for your continued support of our volunteer program!  We’re so proud of you, and can’t wait to cheer on your future success as an OT!

Volunteer Recognition Week Profile: Laura Ruiz Colon

Laura Ruiz Colon Laura Ruiz Colon

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

I began volunteering in the summer of 2008 in the Sibling Play Area.  A few months later, I began volunteering on the pediatric epilepsy unit, and I have been there since then. 

What is your educational background and future career interest?

As a junior in high school, my immediate focus is to keep my grades up so that I can get into a good college.  In the future, I hope to major in neuroscience or biochemistry and go to medical school.  I wish to become a neurologist, with my main interest being autism.  It is my dream to be able to one day come back to this hospital as an accomplished doctor.

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

In the summer of 2005, my family and I moved from Puerto Rico to Woodbury, MN.  During this transition, there were many people who helped us get used to a new way of living.  For what they have done, I remain forever grateful, and as soon as I turned fourteen (old enough to volunteer), I knew that I wanted to volunteer in a children’s hospital.  That’s where I felt I could give the most of myself and make a difference in someone’s life, as it was done in mine.

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

Aside from volunteering, I really enjoy being part of my school’s debate team, as I love public speaking.  I also like watching movies, reading, and spending time with my family and friends.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

I sincerely enjoy everything about volunteering, from getting to know the families to talking to the nurses and making a child smile.  All week, I look forward to my shift on Sunday, coming here with the mission of assuring that the patient has a better day.

Thank you, Laura, for creating better days for the patients you meet here at Children’s!

Volunteer Recognition Week Profile: Marilee DeMars

Marilee Demars Marilee DeMars

Marilee has been volunteering in the NICU at Children’s-St. Paul since January; her career experience includes teaching and homeschooling.  When asked what prompted her to join the Children’s volunteer team, Marilee says, “A friend of mine adopted a 1.5-pound preemie.  She spent many hours at the hospital with the baby, but there were many hours when she could NOT be there-and she told me how volunteers were there to help by simply holding babies.  That was right up my alley.”

In her spare time, Marilee enjoys reading, cooking, baking, crafts, being with her family…and “hopefully some golf, when the weather gets nice!”

When asked what she enjoys most about volunteering, Marilee’s answer is simple:  “Holding babies!”

Thank you, Marilee, for sharing your time with us!

Thank-You from Children’s Patient & Family


It warmed our hearts to receive the following thank-you note from the mother of a Children’s patient (Maddy, pictured above with therapy dog Sasha):

“I just wanted to send you a note to let you know how much the dog visits mean to my daughter Maddy.   Maddy has been in the hospital for almost 6 weeks now.  It has been very difficult to be going through so much medically and to be away from home and away from her own pets.

She has had many dog visits, and it is hard to express in words how wonderful it is when they come in her room. It really brightens her day. It brings normalcy into her life at a time when things are anything but normal. The dogs are able to turn her mood around instantly. These dogs are so sweet and warm and lovable, and that is exactly what she needs for her recovery.

I really want to thank the owners of these dogs for taking the time to have them trained and certified, and for all the time they take bringing the dogs to the hospital. In these times when everyone is rushing around everyday trying to get so many things done, these wonderful people take time out of their busy schedules to come to visit the children here. It is very obvious what big hearts these volunteers have.

Our family very much appreciates these kind people, these kind animals and this amazing program which has brought so much good into our daughter’s life.

Blessings to you all,

Eileen Hawkins”

We couldn’t express our thanks any better than this!  Thank you so much to all of our dedicated pet therapy volunteers!

Volunteer Recognition Week Profile: Kelsey Lepp

 “My name is Kelsey Lepp. I have been volunteering at Children’s-MN for about a year; however, I have been volunteering in children’s hospitals since I was 15 years old. I am graduating in May from the University of Minnesota with dual degrees in Child Psychology and Spanish. My career goal is to be a Child Life Specialist, which explains my lengthy involvement in children’s hospitals. I completed my Child Life practicum in my hometown at the Nebraska Medical Center and am currently applying for Child Life internships across the country for the fall of 2011. I absolutely love volunteering:  the 2-3 hours that I spend volunteering at Children’s make my entire week better. (I only wish that I could be a full-time volunteer instead of working and going to school!)

Aside from working, studying, and volunteering, I am also a member of Exisdanz International Open Dance Team. I have been dancing since I was 3 years old and consider it a part of who I am as a person. I also love to travel. During the spring semester of 2010, I studied abroad in Venezuela, which was an incredible experience. This summer, I will be spending a month going on a grand tour of Europe with my mom.  My mom is one of my closest friends and, with my encouragement, has recently become a Child Life volunteer. As expected, she has also fallen in love with the hospital setting.

I am passionate about volunteering in general. I have volunteered with El Centro, Kaleidoscope Place, the American Cancer Society, Feed My Starving Children, and many other organizations (mostly, of course, working with children). However, Children’s of Minnesota is a truly magical place and I am honored to be a part of the volunteer team. I have had the privilege of assisting in the Art Out of the Box program and working closely with child life specialist Vicki Neis in the Hematology/Oncology Clinic. Everyone at Children’s is so supportive of me and my dream to be a Child Life Specialist. I appreciate everything that I have learned (and continue to learn and experience!) through volunteering at Children’s.”

Thank you, Kelsey, for all of YOUR support for Children’s Hospital!

Where Are They Now?: Clinic Assistant & PA Student Simon Lueth

Simon LuethSimon Lueth 

“Hi, my name is Simon. For the past 2 years, I have been working as a Clinic Assistant in the Hematology & Oncology Clinic at Children’s. Prior to this, I went to school at the University of Minnesota to pursue a degree in Biology, Society, and the Environment. While working on my degree, I was lucky enough to have the time to volunteer at Children’s.

The positive interactions I had with patients and staff as a volunteer, combined with my interest in the healthcare field, led me to pursue a career as a Physician Assistant. I recently found out that I was accepted to a PA program and will be starting my new journey in the next couple of months. I am excited at the prospect of becoming a PA and, because of my experiences at Children’s, know that I want to work in the pediatric field once I am done with my education.”

Thank you, Simon, for all that you’ve done for Children’s–as a volunteer AND an employee!  We wish you the best in PA school this fall!