Archive for the ‘Volunteer Profiles’ Category

Red-Vested Rockstar: Chase Tokarczyk

Friday, May 17th, 2013

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

Meet Chase!

1.   Why he ROCKS?!

 “My niece and nephew were both patients here at Children’s when they were born with heart defects.  Volunteering at Children’s is my way of giving back for saving two wonderful lives.”

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

 “Outside of volunteering, I love to play music (mostly the guitar) for my friends and family.”

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

 “I have three pets: 2 dogs and 1 parrot.”

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

 “If I could create a new candy bar, it would be an Oreo covered in caramel, then layered with milk chocolate. I would call this creation the ‘Caramel King!’”

5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

       “I was pushing a young boy around in a little car through the hallways…after a while, he began to hum the theme to Batman:  nah-nah-nah nah-nah-Batman!  This made my week, since Batman is my favorite superhero.”

 Thank you, Chase, for being such a rockstar! Your smile and enthusiasm are an asset to Children’s!

Red-Vested Rockstar: Janene Koutek

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Janene and The Dude, delivering cool prizes!

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

 Meet Janene!

1.   Why she ROCKS!!

“My brother, Joseph, used to be a patient at Children’s, and I always thought that it would be cool to come and hang out with the kids at the hospital… so here I am! I finally made the decision to become a volunteer. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.” We agree! Janene has been an awesome addition to our Star Studio volunteer team. She brings fun, laughter, and plenty of smiles to each and every shift.

As for the future: “Right now, I am in the process of completing my Masters Degree in Child and Adolescent Development. I hope to someday become a Child Life Specialist.”

  2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

“I love to sing! In January, I won a trip to Hawaii and auditioned to sing “God Bless America” at Target Field for a Twins game. I also love reading, dancing, and scrapbooking.”

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

 “No kids, but I do have a cat. Her name is Tighty Whitey. She’s white with blue eyes and is super shy.”

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

“This is a loaded question…um… I think it would have to be something with toffee, chocolate, and peanut butter. But then there’s nougat and caramel, too. UGH! Okay, for real, peanut butter, strawberries, and chocolate. Kinda like a chocolate-covered PB & J. Yup, that’s it. I’d name it LaLa’s Lucious Lunchwich.”

  5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

“I feel privileged to be able to work with the AWESOME staff at the Star Studio, especially The Dude. But I really love the fact that I get to visit so many kids while I’m at the hospital. I love being able to go into the rooms and share with them what’s going to be on the show. I think it’s super cool when new patients call in! It’s a fantastic feeling to get the kids excited to watch the show, whether it’s their first time or their 100th time.”

Thank you, Janene, for being such an awesome volunteer!

Red-Vested Rockstar: Sean Creegan

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

 

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

Meet Sean!

1.   Why he ROCKS?

“Being in a medical environment is a large switch for me. I worked all through college and after as a carpenter, welder, and painter for the theatre. The work took me all over the United States, and I got to work with a wide variety of talented people on musicals, plays, dance shows, and other performance pieces. Some of my best memories involve working all-nighters with my team to get the show ready to open that evening.

 I recently began to explore medicine as another career choice. As an artist, I have always found anatomy and physiology fascinating. Having worked with my hands all my life, getting to apply this science to a craft like medicine is very exciting to me.

I began volunteering at Children’s to explore this interest more, as well as to spend time with patients. Coming from a family of six children, I feel right at home playing board games and doing art with the kids in the hematology/oncology clinic. The kids that I get to spend time with are so bright, funny, creative, and brave; it’s really a highlight of my week!”

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

   “Kung fu! No, seriously, I do kung fu. It’s a great workout, and good for building focus.”

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

 “I do not, but I would love to get a nice big dog! I’ve decided that his name will be Duke.”

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

 “There used to be a candy bar called “Seven Up,” not to be confused with the sugary drink. It got its name because it had seven sections, and each one was filled with a different flavor, such as caramel, nougat, and mint. I would build off of that idea, add a few new flavors, and call it “The Big Ten,” a nod to the University and my alma mater. I would keep the original flavors and add a few of my own, including bacon, cinnamon roll, and jalapeño.”

 5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

       “I recently played Super Mario Bros. on the Wii with a young patient in the clinic. He had never played the game before, so I gladly showed him the ropes. Mario had been a favorite game of mine when I was his age, so it was very exciting to teach him how to play and see him enjoy it. When he was leaving, he snuck up and hugged me. It was a very touching moment.”

 Thank you, Sean,  for being such a rockstar! Your passion, hard work and positive energy are appreciated!

 

Red-Vested Rockstar: Jory Herman

Friday, March 8th, 2013

 

Jory in his peri-op attire!

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

Meet Jory!

1.   Why he ROCKS!!

 “I was a patient when I was 6 years old, remembering nothing more than being in the hospital. Two decades later, I happened to be driving by (Children’s), stopped in and found the Volunteer Services office. At the time, it was a small closet with two desks:  one was Sandy B’s. I asked what volunteers do, and they immediately assigned me to Saturday morning tours. That was 20 years ago. Before a Children’s Hospital website, families would come in at 9 am on Saturdays to take a walking tour of the hospital. We would get 40-100 people every Saturday. Years went by; I switched to Monday nights, then to Wednesday mornings, and now every Tuesday morning as a Family Escort in Par 2, the 2nd floor surgery center & operating rooms. I love it, they love me, and I plan on staying for another 20 years!

 When not at Children’s, I own my own company, handed down 3 generations, and live downtown in a warehouse loft. I have traveled around the world so much that hanging in my office is a world map with pins in all the places I have been. It’s not full yet, but someday I will fill that map up!”

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

 “Enjoying time with friends, eating at great restaurants, enjoying movies and shows. During the summertime, I love biking and walking the lakes.”

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

 “No pets, but used to have an amazing huge saltwater fish tank in my old house.”

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

“Hard question, but I would say something mango-flavored……Tango Mango!”

 5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

 “It would have to be the “Thank You” that I get from the OR staff, and the comments about how wonderful it is to have volunteers helping them.”

Thank you for your 20 years of volunteer service, Jory! Your enthusiasm, work ethic, and smile continues to impress us!

Red-Vested Rockstar: Fanny Jimbo

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

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

Meet Fanny!

1.   Why she ROCKS?!

 “My interest in volunteering started when I was in high school. I always wanted to help my community, but I did not know where or how to start. I started volunteering at my church, but I did not feel satisfied. Later in my high school year, I participated in this program called Internship/Mentorship where I was given the opportunity to explore a career of my interest while also doing community work. I chose Children’s Hospitals and Clinics because I was confident that I wanted to be a pediatrician someday. Throughout my three years volunteering at Children’s, I have discovered that my interests are different than the desire to serve as a member of the medical personnel. With this message in mind, I went around my community, especially the Latino community, and started tutoring adult students. These volunteer experiences have helped me find my definition of helping:  dedicating my time to provide a positive experience for families and children. Currently, I am attending the University of Minnesota:  I am a junior majoring in Individualized Studies with emphases in Child Psychology, Family Social Science and Public Health. Also, I am a peer mentor for Freshmen Latinos. I will be studying abroad in South Africa this upcoming winter break!”

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

 “When I am not volunteering, I enjoy dancing and scrapbooking. I also enjoy spending time with family, watching scary movies, and playing tennis and soccer.”

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

 “No.”

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

 “My new candy bar’s name would be KARM. It would be made of milk chocolate, inside would have caramel, and it would be covered with coconut strips.”

 5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

 “It was a Friday, and I was beginning my shift. As usual, I went up to the 8th floor to check in with the nurses and see if they needed a volunteer. As I was walking onto the floor, I heard people speaking in Spanish. I was not sure what was going on, so slowly I walked up to the nurses. As I was walking in, this 6-year old girl looked at me and said, “Do you want to play with me?” I was not expecting this immediate invitation; however I knelt down and happily responded with a “yes.” At first, we were playing Candy Land. As we were playing, she mentioned that she was going home. She was very happy! However, she said she was going to miss the hospital, especially the volunteers! As we were finishing our tenth round of Candy Land, she wanted to take a ride on a wagon. We were getting ready to go for a ride when we noticed filmmakers coming in. I did not know what was going on. From her family, I found out that she was shooting a video about her successful therapy. As they were getting ready to start the video, I was ready to leave, but the little girl stopped me and asked me to stay with her. Other than having cultural connections with this family, I was able to be part of a positive experience that this little girl could encounter during her stay at Children’s Hospital.”

 Thank you so much, Fanny, for helping to create positive experiences for the patients and families here at Children’s!

 

 

Red-Vested Rockstar: Harper Skulley

Friday, February 8th, 2013

 

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

Meet Harper!

1.   Why she ROCKS!!

“My family has been involved with various volunteer work for as long as I can remember.  When I found out that I could volunteer at Children’s when I was fourteen, I was really excited because I didn’t think I’d be able to volunteer at a hospital until I was an adult. I love reading and all kinds of books, so working in the Hide-a-Way Library is an absolutely perfect fit.” Harper has given her time to Children’s since  May of 2011. She has such positive energy, and is always willing to help! She is a joy to work with, and we believe that she brightens the days of the patients and families that she works with!

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

“I love ballet:  I have been dancing classical ballet for twelve years and regularly perform with Ballet Minnesota. I also enjoy baking and crafts; really, anything artsy.”

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

 “My family has two bunnies named Mochi and Truffle.”

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

“I love French macaroons, so some sort of dark chocolate macaroon bar with a lavender chocolate ganache center. I probably call it a MegaMac Bar.”

 5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

“I don’t know if I have a favorite volunteer memory, because every time I’m at Children’s is so special and I get so much back. I get to share my love of reading with kids, and seeing kids happily reading a pile of books always brightens my day.”

Thank you, Harper, for all that you do!

Red-Vested Rockstar: Cooper Rapp

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Cooper playing the infamous Pac-Man game!

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

Meet Cooper!

1.   Why he ROCKS?!

 Cooper, often known at Children’s as ‘Super Cooper,’ has been volunteering with us since 2011! He spends most of his time on the inpatient floors, but has also helped out in our hematology-oncology clinic and many other areas. Listen to how he got involved in volunteering: “I got into volunteering through my desire to pursue a career in the field of medicine. Also, because kids rock! I love to play video games, run, and eat good food. Aside from volunteering, I’m a student, researcher, and laboratory preparation assistant at the University of St. Thomas. GO TOMMIES!!”

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

  “Outside of volunteering, I like to play Super Smash Brothers on the N64 or Wii with my friends.”

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

 “No kids, but an awesome little Tibetan Terrier named Ruby. Unfortunately, I’m allergic to most furry little critters, but for some reason, not to Ruby. Thank goodness!”

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

 “Well, it would definitely have Whoppers, toffee, and caramel in it…also, whatever they put inside Three Musketeers bars, because that stuff is awesome. All that would be wrapped up in some thick milk chocolate, and it would be called Magnitude.”

 5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

  “A few months ago, I was volunteering at the hospital with a little boy who wanted to play Pokémon with me. He had a huge stack of cards… [and] told me that he didn’t want to play the normal card game, he wanted to play the “other” one. He explained that he wanted to play through the original GameBoy game story line using his actual cards. We each picked one of the original starter Pokémon (Pikachu included) and had our first rival battle with each other. Then, using our pooled knowledge of the original game, we constructed accurate lineups for each of the eight original gym leaders using what cards we had available. … After we had defeated Giovanni, I set up the Elite Four lineups for him to complete. Being the Elite Four, new rules came into effect. He had to beat each of the Elite Four simultaneously, with accumulating damage and knockouts carrying over into the next battle…After he defeated each member, it was time for his final battle with his rival… Needless to say, I was soundly defeated and we celebrated our new Pokémon champion, taking the time to induct each of his starting six into the ‘Pokémon Hall of Fame’. I spent three and a half hours reliving some of the best times of my entire childhood. Awesome.  Just awesome.”

 We think that YOU are awesome, Cooper!  Thanks so much for all that you do!

Red-Vested Rockstar: Ardie Arko

Friday, January 11th, 2013

 

Ardie & Murray on Give to the Max Day

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

Meet Ardie…and Murray!

1.   Why she ROCKS?!

 Ardie has brought two generations of therapy dogs to Children’s: her beautiful Sheltie, Molly, and now her handsome Sheltie, Murray! She began volunteering at Children’s in 2008, and is an integral part of our PAWH (Pets Assisting with Healing) program, volunteering multiple days each week! Here is her background story: “I was at agility training and discovered that my first Sheltie, Molly, could no longer be involved with agility due to a bad back.  Someone in the class suggested that we might want to pursue training as a therapy dog team.   I was completely unaware that such an activity existed, so I began my research.  Molly and I began the training program, became registered as a therapy dog team, and began visiting regularly at Methodist Hospital.  I retired and became available during days that enabled us to become part of the teams at Children’s Hospital, and I have been working in the rehab areas of Children’s-St. Paul, Minneapolis, Maple Grove and Minnetonka, as well as visiting patient floors at Children’s-Minneapolis.”

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

 “As a result of my interest in therapy work, I joined a group called North Star Therapy Animals and am currently a board member and treasurer.  I love reading and belong to a mystery book club.  I have a new grandson and love to spend lots of time with him, as well as with my daughter and her husband.  I do a bit of fishing and a lot of gardening in the summer time, and enjoy a warm ten days in the winter (not here!).”

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

 “Our dog Molly passed away a few weeks ago, but Murray has been taking her spot in the therapy dog arena.  He is now four years old and really enjoys the children.  We also have two cats, Max and Franky.  We have three grandsons – would love a granddaughter but probably not going to happen!”

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

 “This one will be a work in progress…!”

 5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

 “I have had so many great experiences as a therapy dog team.  One Saturday, I received a phone call from Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis about a little girl who had had surgery on Thursday, but the staff was having a really hard time getting her to sleep.  She loved dogs with a passion, and we were asked to visit to see if we could to possibly help her rest.  I placed Murray in bed with her and, of course, she was delighted.  She petted him, hugged him and talked to him.  After a bit of time, she asked her father for her blanket, which he provided with a great deal of hope.  We had thought she was going to curl up and possibly sleep with Murray next to her.  Not so: she took the blanket and covered Murray with it.  Murray went to sleep!  However, much to our delight, she fell asleep a bit later.”

Red-Vested Rockstar: Robert Mills III

Friday, December 28th, 2012

Robert delivering blankets!

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

Meet Robert!

1.   Why he ROCKS?!

 “My lifelong dream has been to be a pediatrician.  After working several years in the education field, I decided to go back to school to pursue my dream and figured, what better place to gain experience working with children in a medical setting than at Children’s Hospital?” We are thrilled to have Robert volunteer with us on our St. Paul Campus. He has assisted with pre-surgery tours and on the inpatient units, excelling wherever he is placed! Robert has incredible energy, as well as a positive outlook:  he is an ideal volunteer!

2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

“Outside of volunteering, I love to play on my XBOX 360.” We are sure that Robert gets plenty of practice here on the inpatient floors!

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

“I have two sons, Elijah (7) and Aden (4).  I also have two pet goldfish that the kids named EJ and Julio.” :)

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 have to be a mix of Snickers and Turtle.  It would include milk chocolate, peanuts, pecans, caramel, and creamy nougat.  I would name it a Snurckle.”

5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

“There was an 11-year-old who came in for the pre-surgery program when all of the other kids were five or younger.  He, of course, felt out of place with all of the younger kids, so I really tried to connect with him on an 11-year-old level to make the program enjoyable.  We talked about video games, what we liked and didn’t like about middle school,  and sports.  We both had a good time during PSP, and I found out that when he came back for his surgery, the first thing that he asked the Child Life Specialist was, “Where’s Robert?”  It was really cool to know that in our short amount of time together, I made a positive impression on his hospital experience.”

Thank you, Robert, for all that you do!

Red-Vested Rockstar: Fatima Ahmad

Friday, December 14th, 2012

 

Fatima and her favorite childhood character... Elmo!

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

 Meet Fatima!

1.   Why she ROCKS!!

Some would describe this week’s Rockstar as a “positive, energetic person”…we could not agree more!  Fatima brings her energy, love of play, and honest desire to help others to our hospital every Thursday afternoon…and she is only a high school sophomore!  “I started volunteering because I wanted to make a change; I wanted to make a difference. The only problem? I was only about 14 when I first signed up! Luckily, Children’s allowed volunteers of my age.  I fell in love with everything about this hospital:  the kind people, the amazing volunteers, and the inspiring patients.  I just try to live an optimistic life.”

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

“My favorite things to do outside of volunteering are probably reading and theater. Some of my favorite books include ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and ‘The Book Thief.” For theater, I like being backstage and helping there.”

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

 “No:  sadly, I have no pets, and I’m too young to have children!”

 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 new candy bar, I would name it Chuckles. It would be made of milk chocolate and inside would be caramel swirls.  It would have layers too:  one of chocolate, one of caramel, and one in the middle of white chocolate!”

 5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

“My favorite volunteer experience is probably sitting with a patient and playing Wii…which I am awful at!!  The patient and I had a blast playing Mario Kart and talking!”

Thank you, Fatima, for all that you do!