Red-Vested Rockstar: Senna El Bakri

June 25th, 2015

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

Meet Senna!

1.   Why she ROCKS?!

 “I have always loved working with children; I enjoy seeing their imagination and creativity in action. I also love the opportunity to get a little goofy and join in their fun!

 I am a nursing school graduate with an interest in pediatrics. I understand that the mental well being of each child in the hospital plays a big role in helping them get better. Knowing that I am helping these kids forget about the IV lines and monitors for a few hours and just focus on being a kid is incredibly rewarding.”

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

 “In my free time I love to be on horseback. Riding horses is not only a hobby for me but it is also very therapeutic… I absolutely love it.”

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

 “My family has a cat that my father rescued!”

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

 “My candy bar would have salted caramel and real raspberries in it. I would call it the ‘Northeaster’ because I was born and raised in Northeast Minneapolis, and we had some raspberry bushes in our backyard.”

 5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

 “I had a lot of fun spending time on the floors with a boy who was very excited to tell me all about the movie ‘The Avengers’. At the end of our visit, he insisted on making me some hot cocoa, then asked if I could give him a foot massage. It was incredibly cute coming from such a young boy!”

Thank you, Senna, for bringing your ‘inner kid’ to our kids!


Choosing Children’s: Tom Hayden

June 8th, 2015


Nicole Louise Hayden was born on May 25th, 1973 to proud parents Tom & Kathy Hayden; 5 pounds, 3 ounces and a full head of dark hair. The youngest of three children, her life was sure to be filled with love and adventure. Unfortunately, her time on this earth was much shorter than planned; Nicole passed away on May 27th, 1973 due to hyaline membrane disease caused by her prematurity.

 Proud she would be of the incredibly generous heart of her father, Tom Hayden. Tom, or ‘Grandpa Tom’ as known to many staff members, is a kind and dedicated man and volunteer. He began his service at the hospital soon after his retirement in 2008, and has given over 830 hours to date.

 With grown children, six growing grandchildren, and ‘a soft spot in his heart for kids’, according to Tom, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota seemed the most natural place to offer his time.  Soon after starting at Children’s, Tom found his place as the baby holder and comforter. He has a true gift for helping little ones settle, rest, and ultimately heal. No matter if a baby is two days or two months old, Tom provides that comforting touch, allowing little ones to do what babies do best: coo, smile, and rest!

 Tom ends his weekly shift in our (Volunteer Services) office offering a brief overview of his day. The number of babies he held, the breaks he was able to provide to parents, etc. I ask him each week how his shift went, and he always replies ‘just the best’. Well Tom, we think YOU are just the best. Children’s is grateful for your service, and we look forward to your 1,000 volunteer hour landmark!

Red-Vested Rockstar: Joe Scovronski

May 28th, 2015


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

Meet Joe!

1.   Why he ROCKS?!

 “I love working with kids.  After talking to some friends at Children’s and hearing about all the fun opportunities to serve kids & families, I found the online application an easy first step into getting involved.  I’m an architect at Target Corporation, designing stores by day and volunteering with my church’s children’s ministry/Big Brothers Big Sisters by night!  I love being outdoors & exploring the local arts and music scenes.”

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

 “Fishing:  I can’t wait for the upcoming Walleye opener. I go with a group of friends to Leech Lake and Winnibigoshish way Up North. I also am in an amateur bass fishing league through the summer…a little competition is good!”

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

 “I have a son, Samuel. He graduated from UW-Madison with a Mechanical Engineering degree last summer and works in Columbia, MO now. I started helping in children’s ministry at church with his 2nd grade boys’ class, and have kept volunteering with kids ever since.”

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

 “This would be one area that I’d contribute to without kids in mind: I’m a home-brewer, so I’d love to create a chocolate stout candy bar or something along those lines using some of my beers in the mix.  I’d call it Chocolate Barrel.”

 5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

 “My fondest memory was during book-cart rounds maybe 4-weeks after I had started: I rounded a corner, and a young girl was waiting with anticipation near her door for her books. She started jumping up and down when she saw the full book-cart, and had a huge smile as she made her choices. She chose 5 books including some early-readers. I asked how she was doing at her reading and she proceeded to show me! I told her she was a good reader, and that she could get some more books the next day. She smiled, sat down on her bed and continued refining her skills at sounding out the words. The best part of the experience was that the books helped her to focus on something positive and happy during her stay at Children’s.”

Thank you, Joe, for delivering books and smiles to our patients!

Red-Vested Rockstar: Irma Lain

May 15th, 2015


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

Meet Irma!

1.   Why she ROCKS?!

 “I grew up in a home of nine kids, and my mom cared for babies and toddlers in our home for many years.  Somewhere along the way, I gained a great love for little ones, especially babies!  About 9 years ago, I heard my co-worker talk about volunteering in the Children’s NICU and thought it would be something that I would enjoy doing.  She gave me the website application link, and I went from there.  I have been fortunate enough to have work managers all of these years who have allowed me to leave early on Fridays so that I can volunteer!”

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

 “I love spending time with friends – going out to eat, going for walks, watching movies, etc.”

 3.   What keeps you here, volunteering at Children’s?

 “I love having the opportunity to comfort growing babies and seem to be good at it.”

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

 “My candy bar would have chocolate, caramel and peanuts.  I would name it ‘Chocolate Delight’.”

 5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

 “On a recent shift, I was asked to help a patient in the PICU. I was told that he typically loved to snuggle and be held, but that was not the case the day I visited. He wanted some physical space, so he laid back in bed and I simply read and talked to him for about 40 minutes, when he drifted to sleep (which I had been told that he had been fighting all day).  He was very responsive to me and my voice. It made me feel good to be able to help him relax and rest.”

                      Thank you for the YEARS of snuggles, and cuddles for our babies!

Red-Vested Rockstar: Lily Sugimura

April 28th, 2015

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

Meet Lily!

 1.   Why she ROCKS?!

 “I’m an assistant at my dance studio for younger dancers, which is where I realized I enjoy being with children! I’ve always been curious about the medical field so when an opportunity to volunteer at Children’s came up it seemed like a perfect fit!”

 2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

 “Reading and dancing have always been my favorite pastimes!”

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

 “Unfortunately I do not have any pets, but I keep hoping for one!”

 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 made to taste like those dirt pudding cups (chocolate pudding, cookie crumbs, and gummy worms). I’d call it the ‘Mud Pie Bar’! Might not sound or look great, but it would taste amazing!”

 5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

 “Just recently I was playing with a little girl; we walked around in the hall and went to the playroom. When I had to leave, she followed me out, thinking (and hoping) we were going back to the playroom. When she realized I wasn’t able to go there with her, she pressed her face against the glass to watch me leave. It was adorable, but so hard to leave!”

Thanks for spending time (having fun) with the patients we serve!

Red-Vested Rockstar: Teodora Rusinova

April 17th, 2015

Children’s Volunteer Services presents:

Teodora Rusinova!


1. Why she ROCKS?!

“I chose to volunteer at Children’s Hospital, because my future major is nursing. I thought that it will be the best place to start my volunteering career and get some experience. I wanted to give my love and care to the children and their families and I truly realize how fortunate I’ve been to be able to make a difference in their and my lives!”

2.   Favorite thing to do outside of volunteering?

“I love outdoor activities like biking, canoeing and visiting parks and I also love to travel!”

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

I have a three year old daughter. She is my sunshine who makes my days more and more interesting and she is also one of the biggest inspirations and encouragements to volunteer and give love to other children too.”

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

“The main ingredients of the candy would be lots of smiles, warmth and kindness. I would name it ‘Be happy!’”

5.   Share a favorite volunteer experience or story:

“Volunteering at Children’s Hospital has been one of the greatest experiences for me. I know that every Monday morning I would meet a child that will make me smile, touch my heart or give me something to reflect upon. It has improved my social skills and helped those in needs. I admire the hard work and dedication of all the medical professionals.”

 Thank you so much Teodora for sharing your time and talents with us!

Meet Jill and Freddy!

April 16th, 2015

Meet Jill and Freddy!

“A nurse asked that Freddy and I visit a room with young child, maybe 9 months old. The parents were far from home, and having other kids has made this stay quite stressful. The child was upset, and I could see the worry and fear in the parent’s faces. I entered the room and the baby immediately smiled, and laughed at Freddy. As I was leaving, the mother started to cry… letting me know that she was so worried about her baby, but when the therapy dog entered the room, everything changed. Everything was better.

At that moment, Freddy tugged on his leash, sending me a message. I followed his lead, walking him to the mother. He rested his head on her lap, as if offering a hug. The mother started crying happy tears… it was a beautiful moment. It was overwhelming to see the power of love at work in my angel dog, Freddy.”


Meet Tega!

April 15th, 2015

Meet  Tega!

“I love volunteering at Children’s Hospital- Minneapolis because of the high standard of excellence they have for everything that they do, from the decor to medical practices; I feel honored to be a small part of that. Volunteering in the Family Resource Center has given me a greater appreciation for holistic healthcare. I see and learn that helping a child get well also includes things like making sure that there’s food in a family’s cupboards when they get home, that parents have a calm place to unwind and/or get work done, and that siblings have a safe place to play.”

Meet David!

April 14th, 2015

Meet David!

David is an artist, spending his retired time painting, woodworking, and volunteering as a ‘Float’ at Children’s- St. Paul. When asked why he decided to volunteer, David said, “I always had in the back of mind that when I retired, I would volunteer with children and do my art.” His favorite part about volunteering? “Seeing a smile on a child’s face… when you get a child to smile, the whole world is a better place to live.”

National Volunteer Week is April 12th- April 18th!

April 13th, 2015

THANK YOU, VOLUNTEERS, for your smiles, positive spirits, time, and compassion for the patients and families we serve! We are thankful for your service! Each day this week we will be highlighting a different member of our awesome volunteer team. Check back daily to see the featured volunteers. 


Meet Adoma!


Adoma has volunteered with our Star Studio, and on our inpatient units! According to staff, ‘she has a positive attitude and friendly personality; she is rarely seen without a smile!’

When not volunteering, Adoma stays busy with her full-time nursing studies and 2 children, ages 11 and 6. Adoma began volunteering due to her family’s personal experiences receiving care at Children’s.

As she says, “I’m the parent of a child with Sickle Cell and have had several volunteers make our hospital stays at Children’s Hospital more pleasant, interesting and enjoyable, so I wanted to give back by doing the same for other families.”