Red-Vested Rockstar: Elise Beckman

April 2nd, 2015

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

Meet Elise!

 1.   Why she ROCKS?!

 “I started volunteering at a local hospital in my hometown of Sacramento, CA ten years ago, and applied to volunteer at Children’s when I found out I’d be moving to the Twin Cities. That was over two years ago, and I still enjoy coming in every Sunday! I work as a financial analyst for another local hospital system, and love the opportunity to be involved in multiple healthcare environments in the Minneapolis area.”

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

 “I love to travel, and try to explore a new country every year! Next on my list: China.”

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

 “No kiddos or pets currently, but I hope to have both some day…after I’ve explored several more countries.”

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

 “Hmm…I would probably add sea salt to a Twix bar, so I’d call it a “Salty Twix.” (I clearly would need some help with branding!)”

 5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

 “We had a sweet patient in the PICU, who has been hospitalized for some time. One day, I had the pleasure of spending time with the patient’s siblings while their parents spent some time alone with their little one. It was a great experience and a wonderful memory, as the parents were given the opportunity to spend concentrated time with their sick child together. One of the best things about volunteering at Children’s is getting to experience all aspects of care – for not only the patient, but for the families, as well.”

 Thank you, Elise, for brightening the day of our patients and families.

 

Red-Vested Rockstar: Andrew Fenton

March 19th, 2015

 

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

Meet Andrew!

1.   Why he ROCKS?!

 “I got into volunteering because I enjoy helping people and wanted to give back. When I started looking for volunteer opportunities, nothing stood out to me, until I found Children’s Hospital. Wanting to work in the medical field and possibly specializing in pediatrics, there was no place better for me to spend my time. My position as a float gives me the chance to work with infants to young adults. I am able to partake in many different activities, and interact with each child on a personal level.

 When people ask me why I volunteer at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, I always give the same answer… going and spending time with the patients gets their mind off what they are battling, and there’s nothing better than seeing kids smile and laugh.”

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

 “My favorite thing to do outside of volunteering is hang out with my friends and family. I am a part of Prior Lake High School’s National Honor Society Chapter which keeps me busy with other volunteer opportunities along with mentorship programs in the elementary schools. I also enjoy partaking in physical activity whether through pick up sports, casual workouts, or doing things outside.”

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

 “I have a ten-pound Yorki-Corgi mix named Matthew; he is full of energy! We got him three years ago, and he has been a handful ever since! Whether chewing something up or just making an overall mess…we love him! (Plus, it is hard to stay mad at a cute, ten-pound dog for long.) Matthew is always running and never fails to cheer everyone up!”

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

 “I would create a cross between a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and a Kit-Kat. Those two are the few candies that I enjoy, so I can only imagine that combining them would taste amazing! It would be the Kit-Kat base… but instead of just coating it in chocolate, there would be peanut butter added, and then it would be doused in chocolate. Coming up with a name for my candy bar is a tough job, but after thinking about it, I’ve decided on ‘The Peanut-Butter Crunch Bar’.  With this new creation, people around the world will be able to bite into a new, delicious indulgence!”

 5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

 “Out of all of the amazing children I have worked with throughout my time at Children’s, I will never forget one eight-year-old boy. I had been told that he had never been a fan of working with volunteers, but figured I would give it a try. I don’t know what it was, but for some reason he and I just clicked; we were instant buds. He had a lengthy stay, so each week he would request that I come spend time with him. We played games, read books, watched movies, and did art projects. One week, I went to his room and saw on his door a sign he had made reading, “Last round of chemo!” I was so happy for him! When I entered his room he gave me the biggest smile, and told me how excited he was! He said that he couldn’t wait to be home and be surrounded by his family. I left that night with a picture he had drawn for me, and couldn’t stop thinking about what an amazing young boy he was. He taught me how to live every day with a positive attitude, regardless of your situation. I will always remember that night. Months later, I learned my newly found friend was done with his treatment and cancer free. He is always in the back of my mind, and there is no way I could ever repay him for what he has taught me. That experience has changed my life.”

Thanks, Andrew, for making a difference in the lives of our patients!

Red-Vested Rockstar: Ed Kraft

March 5th, 2015

 

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

Meet Ed!

1.   Why he ROCKS?!

 “With my biology degree, I worked in a research lab at the U of M, but soon decided that I wanted to work more with people. I had enjoyed being a medic in the army, so I applied to nursing school at the U of M. During my last year of school I was hired at Children’s! The unit I worked on was transformed into an oncology floor. I decided to stay, and became a pediatric oncology nurse.”

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

 “I used to ride my bike a lot: to work, around the city. Now I enjoy riding my Terra Trike around the area. I have ridden on much of the Grand Round, and toured all the major Minneapolis lakes except Calhoun.

 I also grow orchids. I started about 35 years ago when my wife received a catteleya. I tried growing both cateleyas and dendrobiums, but eventually discovered phaleonopsis orchids. I have been growing them ever since. Right now I have about 30; many shades of pink, yellow, dotted, etc.”

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

 “My son, David, is 28 years old, and Anne Elizabeth, who would be 22 years old this year, is in heaven. We have two dogs: Abby, a black Schnoodle; and Ellie, a Cockapoo. Those are actually their shortened names. My wife wanted them to have strong female role models, so their full names are Abigail Adams and Eleanor Roosevelt.”

 4. Why volunteer at Children’s?

 “I was working at Children’s the afternoon my 8-year-old daughter, Anne, was diagnosed with leukemia. After her diagnosis, we spent a lot of time at Children’s together… but she didn’t want me to be her nurse, just her dad. Anne relapsed after six months, while still receiving treatment, but she fought to stay with us for four more years. Anne died on March 1st, 2005, four months after her 12th birthday. Anne left us with a vast collection of her art: paintings, drawings, pastels, sculpture, pottery (both hand-built and thrown on the wheel), puppets, and more.”

 5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

“Each year I participate in the CureSearch Walk. It has been an honor to walk alongside the patients and families that have experienced care at Children’s.”

Thank you for dedicating your retired time to Children’s and the patients we serve!

Choosing Children’s: Stephanie Schoening

February 25th, 2015

“As the daughter of a doctor, I have felt very comfortable in a hospital environment, and at times I have even felt as if I am complete when I am at work. I can remember going on rounds with my dad as a little girl, and being amazed by all of the different professions. I remember feeling that my course in life would lead me to work in a hospital one day. My first experience in a hospital was being a candy striper, which I loved. I remember convincing the staff to let me start before the required age of 16! I went on to become a medical social worker, and worked in a trauma/orthopedic unit for two years here in the Minneapolis area before moving to Maryland where I worked in a long-term care center for another seven years.

 My career was cut short when I went into premature labor with my first child. I was forced to quit work for bed rest until my daughter’s birth, six weeks early. I mention that she was born six weeks early, because I went into labor when I was only twenty weeks along. Given what I know now, we were very lucky, though what we went through was still very scary and difficult. I went on to have two other children, who were also born early. These experiences with premature labor and living away from home at the time, showed me yet another example of how wonderful it is to receive assistance and compassion from someone at a time of need. All of these personal experiences have led me to volunteering at Children’s Hospital today. I feel like it is a privilege and a gift to help a family that needs it, and the best way for a person like me, who has been lucky and fortunate, to pay it forward. Thank you for allowing me this privilege!”

Thank you for offering your time, patience, and compassion to the patients and families at Children’s!

Red-Vested Rockstar: Michael & ‘Jimi’ Sindt

February 19th, 2015

 

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

Meet Jimi!

1.   Why he ROCKS?!

 “My daughter Natalie works for CHA. It was her idea that Jimi should become a PAWH team member. So when he was 1 year old he went to school.  He did very well, passing all his practicals with flying colors. At 2 years old he was hired! Since September of 2013 he has put in over 155 hours brightening the days of many, many children and parents at Children’s -St. Paul.”

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

 “Jimi’s favorite thing to do is to get together with his friends from the neighborhood and play in his backyard for hours.”

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

 “The “Jimi Bar” would be shaped like a guitar (his full name is Jimi Hendrix you know, and he is left handed,) and would taste like caramel coated peanut M&M’s!”

 4.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

 “Jimi often helps children get back on their feet again when they are having trouble walking. One time a boy was really having trouble steadying himself as he was walking Jimi on a leash. So, with his free hand, he grabbed Jimi’s tail. That helped a lot. What he didn’t know is that Jimi doesn’t care for his tail to be pulled. But no matter, Jimi looked at me and I could tell what he was thinking… “It’s ok. Don’t worry. He can hang onto my tail for as long as it takes. But don’t think that you can!!” Of course, he was smiling.”

      Thanks, Michael, for sharing Jimi with Children’s! Our furry volunteers (and their owners of course) brighten the day of our patients!

Red-Vested Rockstar: Uyen Truong

February 5th, 2015

 

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

Meet Uyen!

1.   Why she ROCKS?!

 “I believe I am a people person and no matter what the task, whether simple or hard or who the person is, I enjoy helping out to the best of my ability. The reason I chose to volunteer at Children’s is because I love interacting with kids. I have been in their shoes and hope to be able to help them have some fun during their stay in the hospital!”

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

 “One of my favorite things to do outside of volunteering is going out to eat with my friends and family. I really like trying new places and I am not particular about the type of food. My favorite foods to eat though are Asian and Italian.”

 3.   We know you have interest in research; can you explain one of your projects?

 “One of my research interests is pediatric medical devices. In my senior year of college, I worked in a group to design a working prototype for a neonatal endotracheal tube monitoring device. We were very proud our prototype worked and were able to present it at different conferences!”

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

 “I am a huge chocolate and coffee junkie. My candy bar would probably be a combination of wafers/crispy rice, coffee flavor of some sort, and cherry covered in chocolate. I would name it something fancy like Starbucks does with their drinks. Perhaps ‘Maraschino Mocha’.”

 5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

 “This one is difficult because I enjoy my variety of experiences from very little kids where we watch movies or play princess, to talking with older patients and playing board games with them. I have learned a lot from them too, like (somewhat) improving my x-box skills. I still can’t drive straight for the life of me in a ‘racing’ game, but thanks to a very patient young boy, teaching me the ropes and what buttons to press, I have become a bit more of a capable gamer.”

 We appreciate your passion, kind spirit, and love for kids!

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!