Category Archives: Awards/Recognition

Families As Partners

Guest blog contributor Tessa Billman is Children’s Family Coordinator, and leads the Families As Partners program.

Families As Partners promotes, coordinates, and supports family involvement throughout Children’s organization.  Those who are involved are current or former patient families.  Opportunities include the Family-to-Family program, Family Advisory Council, Family Advocates, Family Advisors, and the Youth Advisory Council.

Here are a few insights into the program through volunteers’ eyes!

Veronica with newborn daughter, Kate

“I find so much joy in visiting with parents at their children’s bedsides and discussing the concerns that are on their minds.  We count ourselves extremely fortunate to be able to provide a strong, living testimony of the excellent work done at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.”

Veronica, NICU Pizza Break Host, Peer Mentor and Family Rounding Partner

Renee with her children

“As Chair of the Family Advisory Council, I have seen firsthand the partnership shared between families and Children’s staff.  The council, which is made up of families and staff, works together to provide input and influence on policies, programs and practices throughout the hospital to ensure that Patient and Family-Centered Care is achieved.”

Renee, Family Advisory Council Chairperson

Jody and kids

“Participating on the Cystic Fibrosis Family Council (CFFC) has been a great opportunity as a parent to partner with my daughter’s care team to enhance our life experiences as well as other patients and families living with Cystic Fibrosis (CF).   In an effort to support these families, the team developed a brochure, Traveling with CF, to help families prepare for and enjoy traveling.”

Jody, Cystic Fibrosis Family Council

Kate with family

“Our family story may be hard to share and sometimes hard to hear; nonetheless, it is even more gratifying to feel understood. It is fulfilling to know that our daughters’ experiences could possibly influence our legislators’ abilities to represent children, families and our local hospitals, and have better outcomes because of it.”

Kate, Family Advocate who met with Senator Al Franken

Thank you, family volunteers, for your dedication to improving patient & family experiences here at Children’s!

Thank You, Association Volunteers!

As a part of National Volunteer Recognition Week, we are highlighting volunteers who serve in many different capacities to benefit the patients and families at Children’s Hospital. The Children’s Association in Minneapolis, and the Children’s Hospital Association in St. Paul volunteer to provide fundraising support to the mission of Children’s Hospital.

The Children’s Association – Minneapolis was founded in 1958 with the mission of providing fundraising and service support for  Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.  Through the dedicated efforts of its volunteer membership, the Association has raised over $10,000,000 to benefit a variety of programs and projects at Children’s.

Children's Association volunteers assist in the Gift Shop

“I  joined the Children’s Association – Minneapolis 24 years ago in a desperate attempt to meet people after my move to Minnesota!  It didn’t take me long to realize that this was an organization of sincere, dedicated,  determined and friendly women who have one goal in mind: to work hard “For the Love of Children.”   That enthusiasm was contagious, and I instantly became “hooked” on the spirit and goals of the Association.  Over the years, I have been involved in many diverse opportunities to serve Children’s, such as creating items for the annual Craft Bazaar, working at the PGA concessions, helping at home tours,  golf tournaments, luncheons, and rummage sales,  volunteering in the Storybook Gift Shop, and now fulfilling my current role as Association President.  It is such a gratifying and proud feeling to walk through the halls at Children’s and see the many places, programs, and people that have benefitted from the hard work by my friends in the Association.”

-Carol Evans, 2012 President

Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) is composed of deeply committed individuals who volunteer their time and talent on behalf of children and families who, at the time of their visit, may be facing a need unlike any they have ever faced. CHA is a strong volunteer organization that uses a variety of fundraising ideas to achieve success such as Table Talk, a unique gathering of dynamic and diverse women in a format that encourages conversation and new connections, held August 1st at the Town and Country Club, and our 63rd Annual Benefit, the Storyland Ball, held October 27th at the Saint Paul RiverCentre.

CHA members at a garden tea party fundraiser

CHA has 16 guilds located throughout the metro area that fundraise through Holiday Home Tours, rummage sales, fashion shows, garden teas and tours, plant sales, Lobster Fests and so much more!  Through CHA’s volunteer efforts, $658,500,000 has been pledged to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota for 2012.

CHA's Annual Rummage Sale Fundraiser

Thank you to the many volunteers who make both of these organizations so successful. The work that you do to raise funds and spread awareness for Children’s is incredible!

Corporate Volunteers at Children’s

Corporate volunteers at Children’s help with everything from providing meals for patients and families to staffing the many events that we have throughout the year. Oh, and they sure know how to throw a great party!

Kohl's Associates in Action at the Children's booth at the Minnesota State Fair

Already in 2012, UnitedHealth Group has hosted a winter carnival, RJF Agencies has provided & served a pizza lunch to patients and families, Famous Dave’s has provided multiple meals on both campuses, and Walgreen’s has continued to provide an ice cream social for patients, families and staff on both campuses each month! In addition, corporate teams from Target, Optum and others have volunteered a portion of their team meeting time to put together and donate craft kits and comfort items – this is a great way for large groups to volunteer their time at their own offices.

Children’s greatly appreciates the time and talents of these wonderful volunteers and the comfort, care and ease that their generosity provides for the families that we serve. To learn more about what companies are doing to support Children’s, visit the Corporate Partner page on Children’s website–and to learn more about corporate volunteerism, contact Kiirsten at [email protected]!

UnitedHealth Group volunteers at the "Winter Carnival" they hosted at Children's-Minneapolis

Volunteer Spotlight: Rehab Department

Volunteers assisting with Rehabilitation Services at Children’s are enrolled in an academic track for Occupational, Physical or Speech Therapy careers. Volunteers assist therapists on a regular basis with appointments, helping to prepare activities and support the work of the therapist during patient sessions.

Occupational Therapist Emily Debreto and Volunteer Mary Testen

What are rehab therapists & volunteers saying about their work together?

“Mary is an extraordinary volunteer and an asset to our department. My patients look forward to seeing Mary each week. She has done an amazing job assisting with new Occupational Therapy projects, and her creative ideas are appreciated. I would not be as efficient with my schedule if it were not for Mary setting up all of the treatment sessions. Mary ALWAYS goes above and beyond. Thank you, Mary!”

-Emily DeBreto, Occupational Therapist (Children’s Rehab-St. Paul)

“Ever since I started volunteering, Emily DeBreto has been so welcoming and open. I’ve learned so much from observing Emily work with her patients and their families/caregivers. She is so good about explaining what she is doing and why:  she shares the OT viewpoint, which is helpful to me since I’d like to go to school for OT. She cares a lot about her patients, and always makes me feel appreciated & valued as a volunteer.”

-Mary Testen, rehab volunteer

Volunteer Beth Steigauf

“It is wonderful to have an extra and competent pair of hands helping me with patients. Beth has a fabulous attitude and is open to doing all of the crazy O.T. things that I do!”

-Katie Gehrz, Occupational Therapist (Children’s Rehab-Roseville)

“As a student, volunteering at Children’s has not only fulfilled my academic requirements, but has helped me to (finally) decide on my career path. I am truly fascinated by the staff and their compassion to help these youngsters. I am so excited to take what I’ve learned and use it in my next step in life. I will continue to volunteer through school (Masters of O.T.) and, one day, hope to join the amazing Children’s team.”

-Beth Steigauf, rehab volunteer

Children’s Hospital Volunteers Honoring Staff

Volunteers succeed at improving the experience of patients and families here at Children’s Hospital because of the involvement and support of staff members! We appreciate the guidance, acknowledgment, and time that staff share with our volunteers to make volunteering a meaningful and rewarding experience, both for our volunteers and for the patients and families that we all serve.

Recently, our department rolled a staff recognition program called VHS (Volunteers Honoring Staff), and asked volunteers to reflect on the staff support they’ve received here at Children’s. The response has been overwhelming!  We want to thank all Children’s staff for the HUGE difference that they make in enhancing the experiences of our volunteers!

Volunteer Laura Mathers (in red vest) with nurses (from left to right) Steph Mysicka, Sydney Pederson and Nadine Schultz

So many recognition forms were completed…read on for a few highlights!

Betsy Brand, Tom Marsolais, & Sarah Magnuson (Child Life) are IT! They plan for children and their needs while they are in the hospital. They write needs on our census sheets, but also talk with us one-on-one if there is time. There are many large group activities planned for the playroom, which are great fun!”

Diane Kastner, inpatient float and Hideaway Library volunteer

“The nurses in the NICU always say, ‘Oh, here’s Grandma! We gotta find her a baby!’ It’s wonderful!”
Mary Ellen Kruger, NICU volunteer

Mary Ayinde is always a pleasure to spend time with during my shift. She is humorous and also feeds/caffeinates me on a regular basis. My time at Children’s has been infinitely better with Mary around.”
Tom Klink, perioperative escort volunteer

Julie Schommer is always super welcoming when Snickers & I visit the PICU. She lets us know which patients we can visit, and her warm and nurturing personality makes our visits at the PICU extra-special!”
Avi Kecman & Snickers, PAWH volunteer team

Katie Gehrz (Roseville O.T.) shows such compassion for each and every child. She always seems to go above and beyond expectations to provide the best care and support for patients.”
-Beth Steigauf, Rehab Volunteer

Charles Lillicrap (Surgery) consistently goes the extra mile to help when I have a question or concern. He checks in on us and always makes me feel genuinely appreciated and important.”
-Kathy Dowd, Surgery Family Waiting Room volunteer

Volunteer Spotlight: PAWH Teams!

Pets Assisting With Healing (PAWH) volunteers help patients with developmental rehabilitation, and brighten their stay in the hospital by providing pet visits in a variety of patient care areas. Pet and handler teams go through an intensive training and screening process before coming into Children’s to ensure that the dog (or bunny) and handler are well-suited to the hospital environment and visiting role. Currently, Children’s PAWH program includes 27 dog and two bunny teams!

Quick Statistics

-PAWH teams make visits to many different areas of the hospital! Recently, teams have begun making visits to St. Paul’s surgery waiting  area, emergency department, and Short Stay Unit, in addition to ongoing visits made to the inpatient units!

Occupational Therapist Kate Bataglia with PAWH team, Boyd and Kristine Diffley

-In 2011, PAWH teams volunteered a total of 1,537 hours!

-89 PAWH requests from the Rehab department (for PAWH teams to assist with patient appointments) were met in 2011

Staff Comments on the PAWH Program

“It is amazing to see the immediate reaction of not only our patients, but the parents and siblings who are excited to see them. Doctors, Administration, and nurses: everyone has been seen sitting on the floor petting the dogs. They bring out the best in everyone!”- Mary Ayinde, Surgery

“The kids enjoy the dogs just as much as the dogs enjoy the kids!”- Tom Marsolais, Child Life

“To see the smiles and joy on kids’ faces is absolutely priceless when the dogs come to visit!”- Pam Monteiro, RN

“I have been at Children’s for almost 21 years. I enjoy my job, but have to say that my very favorite days are when the canine volunteers and their owners come. They make my day just suddenly seem lighter, and make me smile. My coworkers know how much I enjoy this, so when a PAWH volunteer comes, someone will always announce, “The dog is here–someone find Dolan!”  I am so happy that the kids share them all with us.” -Colleen Dolan, RN

“Being able to utilize our PAWH volunteers for therapy sessions has made a significant impact on the children and families that we work with from week to week. It is very rewarding and exciting, as a therapist, to see a child’s face light up at the sight of their furry therapy friend. Children just seem to be much more engaged and excited about their therapy “work” with the presence and support of a PAWH team. I cannot thank these volunteers enough for the time and enthusiasm that they put into doing what they do best!” -Kate Bataglia, MA, OTR/L

“I am so incredibly grateful for the time and effort that our volunteer handlers put into our program to make it so spectacular. The extra time that goes into making a visit or a rehab treatment session go smoothly is never unnoticed. Karen [Sheahan] and Reba have made such a difference with the children that I treat. Karen comes up with ideas of how to incorporate new games into the therapy session that are games Reba can participate in, but make the goals we work on therapy so much more fun. We would never make the gains that we have made without their teamwork attitude. I am grateful for each and every volunteer handler and their therapy dog. Thank you!!!” -Nicole Iammatteo, OT

Volunteer Thoughts on PAWH

“When I first got interested in doing therapy work with my dog, I had the same picture in my mind as most people:  my dog comforting people by sedately letting them pet her.  The question that I kept asking myself was, “Would my sweet, gentle, but workaholic dog be happy with that?”  Ha!  What we do in Rehab is far from that initial impression–and my dog, Reba, absolutely loves it!

Reba has been able to put all of her talents to work:  obstacle courses, games, treasure hunts, and dress-up parades.  It’s all great fun for Reba, our young friend, and for me–and while we are having fun, our friend is strengthening their motor skills.  It has proved a perfect fit for us.  The children’s delight and enthusiasm at having my dog as a partner in therapy, and playing an active part in their improvement, is truly heartwarming.  It’s a highlight in both my day and Reba’s.”

-Karen Sheahan, PAWH volunteer

“The best part about being on the PAWH team is providing relief to those we meet:  patients, family, and the wonderful staff.  Plus,

Stella loves the treats!”

-John Zabel, PAWH Volunteer

Family Thank-You Letter to Children’s Volunteers

April 5, 2012

To Whom It May Concern:

Our daughter, Moriah, is 10 years old. She has been in the Children’s Pediatric Epilepsy Unit in St. Paul, MN for several weeks.

I would like to commend and thank all of the volunteers who have come to our floor and have spent time with Moriah. It has made her days here go so much faster!

Each volunteer approached us with a smile and an eagerness to help us in any

Volunteer Ali McFarland with Moriah and Pat (Moriah's mom)

way we requested. They helped me (Mom) the most by assisting Moriah with homework. Homework with Mom is “old” and “boring.” When the volunteers complete homework assignments with her, she is engaged and eager to please them. Each volunteer has been very patient with her, and has helped her stay on task with her deadlines.

The most valuable asset each volunteer has given Moriah is their time with her. Every time a volunteer approached, it brought a smile from her. They brought her crafts to work on, got her hooked on BINGO!, played games with her, played cards, played Wii, and basically did anything that Moriah asked of them.

Each volunteer spoke with her honestly and intellectually. They brought true friendship and encouragement to our daughter. And, again, they took time from their lives each day to spend time with our daughter. THAT is priceless to us!

We would like to express our sincere and heartfelt gratitude to the coordinating staff, the volunteers, and Children’s Hospital for their dedication to this highly valuable program.

Thank you all!

-Pat and Dean Everson

Volunteer Spotlight: Surgery Department

How do volunteers support this department?

Volunteers assist patients and families in the surgery area in many different ways!  Here are just a few examples:

-Escorting patients and families on the day of surgery, especially while accompanying parents from the Operating Room to their waiting area as their child undergoes surgery.

-Covering the desk in the Surgery Family Waiting Room

-Supporting the Pre-Surgery Program, which prepares children and families for upcoming scheduled surgeries through fun medical play, a puppet show (St. Paul campus only), and tour of the surgery department.

Quick Statistics

- The Perioperative Escort volunteer program is growing! In 2010, volunteers in Minneapolis completed 299 service hours as perioperative escort volunteers. In 2011, a similar program was created in St. Paul, and volunteers from both campuses volunteered for a total of 1,563 hours!

– In 2011, volunteers in the Surgery Family Waiting Room at Children’s-Minneapolis interacted with 5,652 inpatient family members; volunteers in the Surgery Family Waiting Room at Children’s-Minnetonka interacted with 6,324 family members.

– Pre-Surgery Program- Across all campuses (St. Paul, Minneapolis and Minnetonka), this program reached a total of 641 families as they prepared for their child to undergo surgery.

Allison Bradee volunteering as a Perioperative Escort

Quotes from Volunteers

“My favorite part of volunteering in the perioperative area, hands down, has to be the amazing staff! I’ve met some of the nicest people through my experiences at Children’s! They are inspirational, and I love to watch them interact with all of the children. My second-favorite has to be the amazing kids that I’m fortunate enough to be able to interact with every Friday morning! I have had nothing but good experiences during my time thus far at Children’s Hospital!”

-Phil Thomas (perioperative volunteer, April 2011-February 2012)

“I enjoy watching the interactions between the staff and children-particularly the efforts made to make sure that the children are comfortable and happy!”

-Tom Klink (perioperative volunteer, September 2011-present)

I really enjoy volunteering at Children’s. Everyone in the surgery unit is nice, friendly, and helpful. My favorite part of volunteering is interacting with the families and trying to make them feel more comfortable during their visit.”

-Jazmine Olson (perioperative volunteer, February 2012-present)

Staff Quotes

“I can’t thank the volunteer team enough for all they do for our families and our staff in surgery.  We miss them terribly when they aren’t able to be here.  It’s one of the things we cover in morning report–“Who is our volunteer today?”–so that we all know who it will be.  I heard [a volunteer] so kindly say to a parent as they left the operating room, “Follow me; we’ll go back to your room now.”  This is such an emotional time for parents.  Often when I’ve escorted parents out, they turn around and around because they really don’t know where to go and are teary.  It was so nice to hear a volunteer providing those kind directions in such a caring voice.  Many thanks!”

-Sue Bauer, Surgery

Thank you, surgery volunteers, for the awesome energy, compassion and dedication that you bring to this volunteer role!

Children’s Hospital Leadership & Volunteer Services Staff Recognize Volunteers!

Children’s Hospital Leadership on Volunteerism

Allan Goldbloom2

“Each volunteer at Children’s brings a unique and personal commitment to helping us fulfill our mission to children and  families. As a group, our volunteers have always been part of the “heart” of Children’s, and we are deeply grateful to them for their time, their energy, and their passion.”
Alan Goldbloom, MD, President and CEO

Dave Brumbaugh

“There is no “I” in team, but there is a “U” in volunteer!
Thank “U” for being a member of Children’s care team!”
Dave Brumbaugh, Vice President of Human Resources

Roxanne Fernandez

“How very fortunate we are to have people who have found how to serve, and then chosen the children and families at Children’s.  Whether they are sharing a book or a meal, providing a hand or a strong shoulder, their gifts come from the heart, and also from a very good soul.  We are all better off because we know them.”
Roxanne Fernandes, Chief Nursing Officer

Children’s Hospital Volunteer Services Staff


“Volunteers give of their time, caring hearts and expertise to make a difference at Children’s.  Your guidance, willingness to listen, support, appreciation, passion and high standards of family-centered care are what brings the volunteer program to life, offering a partnership in the care of our pediatric patients and families.

Thank you for creating a caring environment that enriches each volunteer and allows them to share in Children’s mission.”

Sandy Bergeron, Director of Volunteer Services

Lisa MunsonWhenever I am chatting it up with my friends, family or just people I meet, and they ask me where I work, my response is always something like, “I work with the greatest group of people ever: the volunteers at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota!” Our volunteers come from so many varied, interesting and different walks of life, and each brings caring, compassion and comfort to the patients and families that we serve. Thank you!  And please know that I am in awe of each and every one of you. You make me smile every day. :)”

Lisa Munson, Volunteer Coordinator


“Our volunteers are some of the most fun & fabulous people around! It’s truly inspiring to work with individuals who are motivated by genuine spirits of kindness and compassion. Their energy and enthusiasm consistently brightens my days, and I’m so grateful for all that they do to make Children’s a happier place for patients & families!”

Jenna Barke, Volunteer Coordinator


“Volunteers at Children’s Hospital are incredible! I love supporting volunteers in a setting where I can be confident that volunteers make a huge difference, and have a rewarding experience at the same time. It’s awesome to work in an office where volunteers are constantly coming in with great stories, plans for their careers, updates about their lives, and smiles on their faces.”

Kristi Kehrwald, Volunteer Coordinator


“We have an incredibly strong volunteer department due to the dedicated, creative, and kindhearted volunteers on our roster! Our volunteers make an impact every time they walk through Children’s doors, greeting patients, staff and families with a smile, and brightening the day of every child they spend time with. Whether volunteers are delivering books, scanning materials, making deliveries, or rocking babies, we appreciate all that they do, and I am honored to have them on our team!”

Ingrid Arnold, Volunteer Coordinator

Volunteer Spotlight: Inpatient Units

What do volunteers do on the inpatient units?

Spend time with children, mostly one-on-one:  patients and their siblings LOVE to PLAY! Inpatient volunteers assist with arts & crafts projects, bring children to our inpatient playrooms, play games,  read books, watch movies, rock babies, or simply chat and keep children company in their rooms.

Volunteer Mary Ellen Kruger in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

Our Inpatient Unit Volunteers Make a HUGE Difference at Children’s!

In 2011, Children’s volunteers:

-volunteered  25,366 total hours on our inpatient units

-Completed approximately 45 volunteer shifts each weekday and 12 shifts a day each weekend for a grand total of 12,490 three-hour inpatient shifts in 2011!

-Volunteers spend time with an average of 2-3 patients during each volunteer shift, which means that, in 2011, they interacted with approximately 31,225 Children’s patients!

We want volunteering to be a meaningful experience for volunteers, as well as those we serve. Why do volunteers share their time at Children’s Hospital?

“I volunteer because I love working with kids. This is a chance for me to do what I love while gaining insight into the healthcare industry!”

Nickie Fowler, inpatient volunteer

“Volunteering at Children’s has been one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences of my life!”

Lea Dinndorf, inpatient volunteer

“I receive so much joy and contentment from volunteering at Children’s…it’s the highlight of my week!”

Roxanne Lerum, Infant Care Center volunteer

Volunteer Kyle Anderson playing with patient

Volunteers mean so much to the patients, families and staff here at Children’s Hospital!

“All of the volunteers were great!”

Family Survey

“The volunteer staff was wonderful, so caring and fun. I want to thank ALL of them.”

Family Survey

“You volunteers all make such a difference here for these children.  I am so very grateful every day for all that you do.”

Kate Beaudin, RN, PICU (Children’s-Minneapolis)

“A mom stopped in the Family Resource Center today and mentioned that the two things that really make her son’s day at Children’s are…X-Box and VOLUNTEERS!”

Carolyn Reseland, Family Resource Center

Happy National Volunteer Week to all of our inpatient unit volunteers! Thank you for making a huge positive impact on the lives of Children’s patients, families, and staff!