Red-Vested Rockstar: Rocio Andrade Vera

February 28th, 2014


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

Meet Rocio!

1.   Why she ROCKS?!

 “I am a neuroscience major at St. Thomas and love interacting with kids. I originally started volunteering through a j-term program at St. Thomas that helped with career exploration. However, I loved it so much that I continued to participate in the volunteer program after j-term was over. Even though I didn’t know what to expect from the volunteering program it has surpassed anything I have ever done. Those who know me know that I also volunteer for the pure privilege of rocking babies to sleep, which is something I have gotten quite good at.”

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

 “I enjoy spending time with my siblings as well as my nieces and nephew. Watching bad TV shows always helps me release stress, as well as playing ‘flappy bird’. I take every opportunity I get to travel; exploring new places around the world is something I feel passionate about.”

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

 “I have never had a pet in my life (even as a kid!) I have six siblings, so my parents never even considered getting us a pet to cause more trouble!”

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

  “I’m obsessed with life savers gummies and sour patch kids. If I could, I would create a gummy that was chewy like the life saver but sour and thick on the inside. I would call it ‘the life sour saver’.”

 5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

  “Since the first day I started volunteering I have had nothing but positive experiences. My favorite experience happened when I first started at Children’s. I went to see a kid who had just gotten out of surgery; he wasn’t feeling well so when I got to his room he wasn’t in a great mood. I asked if he was in the mood to play. He said no to playing, but asked if I could stay and just hang out with him. I was more than determined to make him feel better and as time went by he started smiling and playing with me! I think this experience reflects the true reason behind why I’m here, I enjoy providing that positive experience kids need when they’re in the hospital. To know that you can be the person that can change someone’s day for the better is something to be proud of.”

Thank you for sharing your constant smile, playful energy and true passion for helping others with the patients and families at Children’s!

Give, Dream, Inspire!

February 19th, 2014


Nick isn’t your average twenty-something year old college student, he is a young man with a mission. Thanks to his first volunteer experience, right here at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, he realized he has a lot to give and that possibilities are endless. Check out his post below.

 “I knew I wanted to do something, to add more meaning to my 20 year old life, but never knew what it was. After High School, my friends went off to college, and I took a semester off in hopes for opportunities to meet new people through getting involved with the community. After a web search, I came across Children’s Hospital. I applied to volunteer, went in for an interview, and was offered a position! I still remember my first shift: a nervous excitement, getting used to my surroundings, but the spark was there… and came to life after that shift. On my Children’s volunteer days, I would wake up happy. I made an effort to get good night sleep the day before, so that I had plenty of energy to work with patients.

 The feeling of knowing I was helping others, making a hospital stay a little less scary is indescribable.  I will never forget a patient I worked with; we never had that awkward first meeting stage, we were instantly buds. He challenged me to a game of Wii and I thought, “ok, I am older and really good at video games, so I will let him win.” Turns out there was no need for that, he was a skilled player and beat me time and time again! As my shifts at Children’s continued, I found myself signing up for more and more opportunities and charities that I could help with in the Twin Cities.

 I helped with a couple of other organizations serving less fortunate populations, which continued to open my eyes at the importance of giving back. After countless smiles, laughs, and friendships built from these experiences, I caught myself sharing my experiences with my friends, family, and peers… letting them know that my goal in life was to live happily, forever, with laughter! I found myself being called the “volunteering guy”, having numerous people call or email me, asking how they can get involved, which inspired me to help coordinate opportunities. I started living my personal mantra, and decided that the way I wanted to live, should be the name of my movement… ‘Happily Forever Laughter.’ The organization I created encourages peers to lend a helping hand, instilling in people that they have a worth, and a purpose and can do more that they may believe they can do. Getting out into different communities, meeting new people, and spreading happiness is the best medicine.

 Now, months and months later, I have coordinated over hundreds of volunteer opportunities, and have been given the opportunity to sign off on volunteer hours for other U of M students. I will never forget that my mission all started from my positive experience at Children’s Hospital.” -Nick DeMarco

Red-Vested Rockstar: Vinh Dang

February 14th, 2014

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

Meet Vinh!

1.   Why he ROCKS?!

 “My time volunteering started at Red Cross, I originally did that because I thought it’d be a good experience, and I love helping people out. Last year I fell in love with the idea of everything pharmacy and getting to work in a hospital sounded like an opportunity I wouldn’t dare pass up. I’m currently pursuing a career in pharmacy, work in a pharmacy at Walgreens, and am a 4th semester PSEO student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.”

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

 “My favorite thing outside of volunteering is working in the pharmacy at Walgreens. I get so much joy out of helping others, and I can just tell it’s where I’m meant to be.”

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

 “No. Being only 18, I don’t plan on having any kids for a long time. As for pets, I once had 2 hermit crabs.”

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

 “Gummy narwhals. Pretty straight forward, but it’s hard not to love narwhals!”

 5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

   “My most memorable volunteer experience was aiding in the comfort of 12 pre-schoolers in the Emergency Room waiting area as they went in for tests after a small bus accident. Being able to alleviate their worries and fears was immensely satisfying, especially when I got to see their faces light up as they ran to embrace their parents.”

Thanks for your reassuring demeanor and genuine excitement for helping others!  You truly have… heart!

Red-Vested Rockstar: Parker Freiborg

January 31st, 2014



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

Meet Parker!

 1.   Why he ROCKS?!

 “I got into volunteering because I realized that I was being a little selfish with my spare time. I love kids, so it was a no-brainer to look up Children’s Hospital and inquire. For some reason, after a year of playing board games and video games… I still get whooped by the kids I’m volunteering with!”

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

 “I’m huge into the outdoors; I hunt when I can, although this year has been a little scarce. I put in time filming for a hunting show on the Sportsman’s Channel called “Hallowed Ground Outdoors”, so that’s where most of my “hunting time” goes. Other than that, most of my time is spent with friends and family, I try not to stay idle for too long!”

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

 “I have a 14 year old yellow lab named Gunnar. She was my first pet and she will be a tough act to follow for any other dog I consider getting. She loves kids so much, that we have a collage on our wall of 30 or so kids using her as a pillow, dressing her up as a princess, or riding her like a horse.”

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

 “I go back and forth with my sweet tooth, I LOVE a good chocolate/caramel combo, but the next day I’ll be craving gummy worms. But, if it had to be a candy BAR I’d probably do the chocolate/caramel combo with small coffee beans in it. (I’m also addicted to good coffee) The name would end up being something like “Diet Bar” or “Health Plus” because it would obviously be calorie free ;)

 5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

   “I’ve had so many good experiences at Children’s, from babies that go from screaming to an out-cold slumber when you hold and rock them, to making new friends that don’t want me to leave at the end of my shift. I think the experience that I had the most fun was with a younger boy, maybe 10 years old. He wanted a volunteer because he was a little nervous being left alone while mom went out for dinner. I walked into the room and he said he just wanted someone to watch TV with, so we started flipping through channels. We came across the Barrett-Jackson auction (car auction in Arizona) and this kid’s face lit up. Now, to preface this story, I’d like to think I know a lot about cars: old cars, new cars, obscure cars, but this boy KNEW cars. I’ve never had such an in-depth conversation about classic Mustangs and the pros and cons of model changes year over year. This little guru had cars DOWN. We had so much fun talking cars that when his mom came back from dinner, he asked if she wanted to go out for dessert so he and I could continue watching the auction and talking motors.”

 Thanks, Parker, for showing that taking the time to get to know a patient can lead to a fun and memorable experience for all!

Buds in Scrubs: Angie Norvitch

January 24th, 2014


Children’s Volunteer Services presents:

 Buds in Scrubs!

 1.   Meet Angie:

Angie is the interactive designer in the marketing and communications department at Children’s. What exactly does that mean, you ask? Well, she offers her creative talents to many areas including website re-designs, some Facebook images & cover photos, the images for the Children’s journey walls and, most recently, she redesigned the blog along with its newsletter design. Did I mention she created the adorable photo template for our Pet Therapy Thursday PAWH post??

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of work?

 “I enjoy being outdoors and anything that keeps me active. I am a marathon runner, so I run lots of miles. My mom taught me how to crochet a couple years ago, so I’ve taken that up as a “relaxing” hobby. And I also enjoy being social and being with my friends.” 

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

 “No kids, no pets.” 

 4.   What is your favorite book and/or movie?

 “My favorite movie is The Proposal with Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock. I laugh like it’s the first time I’ve seen it, everytime.”

 5.   Who was your hero as a kid?

 “Probably Batgirl or Belle from Beauty and the Beast.”

 6.   Who is your hero now?

 “My parents. They are pretty much amazing.”

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

 “I’m all about dark chocolate and REAL peanut butter, so probably those ingredients and I’d call it ‘PB & DC’, because I’m not good at naming things.”

 8.   What do you love most about your job at Children’s?

 “ I don’t know that I can pick just one thing that I love most. I love that I get to be creative everyday and my team that I get to work with. I feel that my reach is pretty vast here, being the only web designer, so I love that I get the opportunity to learn about different departments and meet others from all over the organization. And, I love that I am learning something new every day!”

 9.   Share a work experience involving volunteers:

 “Recently, I did some user-testing of our website with some volunteers. They were so helpful in providing valuable feedback about the website and changes being made to the site.”

Thank you, Angie, for sharing your creative talents with Children’s!


Red-Vested Rockstar: Gretchen Arana

January 17th, 2014


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

Meet Gretchen!

1.   Why she ROCKS?!

 “The main reason I got into volunteering at Children’s is because I love working with children!  I had a career in health insurance sales for many years and decided it was time to change things up so I went back to school for nursing!  I recently graduated and hope to get into pediatric nursing. I am thrilled to be entering the healthcare field and so excited to start my new career!”

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

 “My absolute favorite thing is to hang out with my kids! When we have a free day we like going to the movies or spending a day at the MOA going on rides – always a huge hit! We went sledding twice this past week, which was awesome. Outside of that – I love to read, bike, and spend time with friends.”

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

 “I have 2 kids and 2 pets. My daughter is 10 and my son is 7. We have a cat and recently added a dog to the mix. It’s been a few months and they are finally able to tolerate being in the same room together, which is lovely. I am talking about the cat and dog, not the children! Haha!”

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

 “I called in the kids for back up for this question. We’ve decided the candy bar would include cookie dough, caramel, and chocolate. We came up with the name ‘Triple C bar’!”

 5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

 “There are so many special moments that it’s hard to pick a favorite. During my most recent shift, I was playing with a patient who was 16 months old. We were reading and looking at books and she started to repeat a word or two – so amazing to be a part of! I love rocking the babies, taking the kids for strolls in the hallway, and playing games with the older kids. Just being able to help families, in any small way, during this stressful time is the best volunteer experience for me.”

 Thank you, Gretchen ! Your enthusiasm, warm smile, and love for kids is evident in the volunteer work you do!


Volunteer Services Welcomes (back) Ben Reed!

January 10th, 2014


Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota is excited to welcome (back) Minneapolis Volunteer Coordinator,

Ben Reed!


Why share his talents with Children’s? Find out below (along with other fun facts about Ben):

 What excites you most about working at Children’s?

   “The people and the culture. Knowing that each day I am making an impact, direct or indirect, on the experience that children and families have.”

 Favorite thing to do outside of work?

 “Stay current on doomsday prepping in the event of a zombie apocalypse.”

 Something unique or interesting about you?

 “I have ran the Twin Cities marathon twice. And never will, ever again.”

    Favorite Superhero?

  “Aquaman. I love fishing and fish frys, although being Aquaman may take the fun out of it.”

 Do you have any pets?

 “Two cats. Belle, who my wife named and Beluga, who I sort of named. My wife would not go for Lester or El Tigre.”

    What words come to mind when you think of a volunteer?

 “Hero, selfless, engaged.”   

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

 “Layers of bacon, maple breakfast sausage and chocolate, dipped and covered in chocolate. I’d call it ‘Choco-Meaty’.”

We are excited to have you back on board, to collaborate and see what endeavors are ahead!

Red-Vested Rockstar: Rachel Comfort

January 3rd, 2014



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

Meet Rachel!

1.   Why she ROCKS?!

 “I decided to start volunteering as a way to explore nursing as a possible career and also because I want to give back to my local community. Being able to volunteer my time and energy is priceless because I can impact someone’s life in a positive way. I am currently a nursing student and also work at a small, family-owned restaurant.”

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

 “My favorite activity outside of volunteering is long distance running and spending time with my friends and family. Staying active is a big part of my life and my relationships always take priority!”

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

 “I currently don’t have a pet or kids of my own but my parents adopted an English Cream Golden Retriever named Cooper. He has been a wonderful addition to our family and makes each day filled with laughter!”

 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 taste like a Girl Scout Thin Mint cookie. It would have layers of mint, chocolate, and cookie! I would name it the ‘Hope Bar’ because something as simple as a candy bar can bring people hope and make them feel better about their day.”

 5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

 “My favorite volunteer story was when I spent time with a patient and within my short period of knowing them, they were calling me their best friend and were so sad when it was time for me to leave. We played for hours in the playroom and I wheeled them down the halls in a toy car. We talked about their friends and all the activities that they were involved in. It was a memorable experience for me because before I left, the patient looked at me and said, “Because of you, I’m not scared to be in the hospital anymore.” That is a memory that I will treasure forever.”

Thank you, Rachel, for providing the extra time and care that our patients deserve!

Red-Vested Rockstar: Rui Raposo

December 20th, 2013


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

Meet Rui!

 1.   Why he ROCKS?!

 “I got involved at Children`s because I hope to become a pediatric nurse. Volunteering is the best way to gain experience, and give back to the community. I am originally from South Africa and been living in the U.S. for 3 years. I currently speak four languages and hope to learn more.”

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

 “When I am not at college, I travel as much as possible! I am looking forward to going to South Africa in June.” 

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

 “I have a moody tabby cat that I adore. Salta is seven years old, and is obsessed with sleeping.”

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

 “It would need to have the following layers:
A crunchy almond base, layers and layers of shredded coconuts, one layer of caramel, one layer of Peanut butter and finally,
COVERED IN CHOCOLATE…pure bliss! I would call it; ‘Eat this’!”

 5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

 “When volunteering, I frequently speak Spanish with patients and families. Recently I had a play date with a patient who only spoke Spanish. Being a child in a hospital is overwhelming, not having anyone to speak your native language is beyond frightening to say the least! We spent the afternoon coloring, and playing with play-Doh. Having some sort of familiarity to someone, even if I was stranger, brought some security that she was understood. Understanding a non-English speaker in a language they understand makes healthcare universal and satisfying.”

Thank you, Rui, for being a part of the Children’s team. Your enthusiasm, talents, and ability to connect with our patients and families are invaluable!


Red-Vested Rockstar: Emily Machi-Conigliaro

November 8th, 2013

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

Meet Emily!

1.   Why she ROCKS?!

 Emily has been volunteering at Children’s on the inpatient units (most recently, the Infant Care Center) since January 2013! She brings enthusiasm to her shift each week, and has a clear passion for helping provide comfort to our patients!  Why has she chosen to give her time to Children’s?  “When my niece was just over one year old, she became critically ill and spent about two months at Children’s Hospital.  I was so amazed by all the good work that happened there that I wanted to give back.”

2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

“I love to spend time outside with my family.  We frequently ride bikes, have picnics, and visit playgrounds. I also love to cook and bake.”

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

“I have two kids of my own: Avery (5 years old) and Ian (2 years old).  They keep me busy all day long as a stay-at-home mom. I also have a dog named Linus and a husband, Paul.”

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

“I don’t think I could make a candy bar more perfect than the ‘Take 5.’  It is my favorite and has all my favorite things in a candy bar!”

5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

“My favorite part of volunteering is snuggling with babies.  They are so much calmer and happier when someone can hold them.”

 Thank you, Emily, for your support of Children’s and the patients that we serve!