Monthly Archives: February 2011

Exploring Pharmacy: Volunteer Aubrey Goettsch & Pharmacist Mary Gustafson

Editor’s Note:  Many of our volunteers (student AND adult) come to Children’s to gain experience for a future career in health care.  From time to time, we are able to arrange informational interviews between volunteers and Children’s staff members. We truly appreciate staff taking the time to chat with our volunteers, and volunteer Aubrey Goettsch is one example of a volunteer who has benefitted greatly from an interview like this!


Aubrey writes:  “Children’s Volunteer Services helped me set up an informational interview with pharmacist Mary Gustafson so that I could learn more about a job that I’m really interested in.  I’d been looking forward to this for a while, and it surpassed all of my expectations.  Mary was so friendly, and it was very helpful to find out how she’s gotten to where she is. Mary’s the kind of person who really loves her job, and the interview left me feeling excited to pursue such a rewarding career.

I’ve always felt that a career in pharmacy would be a good fit for me, but I still had many questions about the field.  During our interview, I found out how Mary got to where she is today (where she went to college, her previous jobs, etc).  I also found out what, exactly, a pharmacist’s job entails, and who they work with on a daily basis. Mary also explained the difference between working at a clinical pharmacy and a hospital pharmacy, which is something  that I’ve always wondered about. Overall, I was happy to learn that this job requires personable people, because that’s the kind of job I’m looking for!  Having this interview really helped me realize that this is a career I want to pursue, and I would recommend that any unsure volunteer interview someone in a field that you’re considering. Not only will you learn whether the job is a good fit for you, but you’ll also gain good tips on how to get to that position.”

-Aubrey Goettsch

2010 Annual Report!


  • …65% of our volunteers were 25 years of age or younger?
  • …67% of our volunteers came to Children’s due to an interest in health care careers?
  • …Children’s volunteers had 24,197 total patient interactions?
  • …9,464 library books were distributed by volunteers through the use of our book wagons?
  • …640 families were served through Children’s pre-surgery programs in Minneapolis, in St. Paul, & Minnetonka?

These facts are only a small sample of the volunteer achievements listed in our 2010 annual report!   This report is available online at:

2011 Minnesota Hospital Association Volunteer of the Year Nomination: Jane Baxter

Editor’s Note:  Each year, the Minnesota Hospital Association recognizes individuals and hospitals across the state for outstanding performance.  MHA’s “Volunteer of the Year” award is given to “someone whose activities benefit the well-being of patients and the hospital, and who stands as an inspirational example of hospital volunteerism” (  Points are awarded for participation in hospital auxiliary organizations, active leadership roles, etc.  This year, Director of Volunteer Services Sandy Bergeron nominated longtime volunteer Jane Baxter!  The text of Sandy’s nomination is below.

“Jane has been volunteering at Children’s since 1994.  For the past 17 years, Jane has volunteered weekly in the Infant Care Center, hematology/oncology unit, and home-based Hospice/Karuna program.  Jane is a leader in her volunteer roles, training over 50 new volunteers and presenting at every hospice training since the program’s inception.


Jane graduated from the first-ever Children’s Hospice/Karuna volunteer training in the 1990s and has been placed with 15 families since that time.  Jane’s families have included infants, toddlers, teenagers & young adults, and she has been very open to a variety of challenges.  She stepped into a leadership role in the Children’s Grand Prix event, volunteered for fundraising events such as Thank God for Kids (Children’s annual gala), and has assisted with special events and requests at the last minute.

We are honored to nominate Jane for her ongoing support of Children’s Hospital!”

Volunteer Profile: Hannah Perrel

Editor’s Note:  Hannah has been volunteering on the inpatient units since January 2010; she began her Children’s volunteer journey as a student in our Child Life Volunteer Exposure Experience, a month-long career exploration program for students interested in child life careers.  She is currently a student at the University of Minnesota, where she is majoring in child psychology and minoring in family social science.  Hannah was kind enough to take a few moments from her Friday afternoon shift to answer the following questions!

Why did you decide to volunteer?

 “I decided to volunteer to gain more experience and see how I liked the hospital environment.  I love spending time with kids and their families, so volunteering is the perfect activity for me!”

What kinds of things do you enjoy doing when you’re not volunteering?

” I really enjoy spending time with my family and friends.  I also love being outside, trying new restaurants, and listening to live music!  School keeps me pretty busy now, but I also love traveling and hope to be able to do more when I graduate.”

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

“I love getting to play with the kids, doing arts and crafts projects, and playing games!  It makes me so happy to spend time just hanging out with kids and their families!”

Thanks so much, Hannah, for ALL that you do here as a Children’s volunteer!

Christmas in February!

What’s the first thing you think of when you receive Christmas cash?  One thoughtful young lady immediately thought of donating her personal funds to make fleece blankets for the patients here at Children’s.

Epiphanie Belanger (age 14) and her brother, Arthur (age 12) came to our office today to deliver 10 handmade fleece blankets to give away to children on the inpatient floors.  Their visit was a great day-brightener for all of us and made us smile long after they left!  (We know that these blankets will bring many smiles to children on the units, too!)

Thank you, Arthur & Epiphanie!

Volunteer Profile: Phillip Thomas

Phillip Thomas
Phil Thomas (pictured) is a new member of the Children’s volunteer team. After just two weeks of volunteering on the inpatient floors in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, he had this to say about his experience:  "Thank you for giving me the opportunity to volunteer! I’m thrilled already with how it has been going, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it!  I’m looking forward to my future at Children’s!"
Phil is planning on attending medical school, but is unsure at this point which specialty will be his focus. At the top of his list are orthopedic sports medicine and possibly neonatology. Of course, Phil acknowledges that his focus could change while in medical school; therefore, he plans on keeping an open mind. Phil just celebrated the fact that he completed the MCAT; he will be submitting applications for medical school next! 
Good luck, Phil, and thank you for sharing your time and talents at Children’s!

Volunteers Are Service Stars: Tsering Tsomo

We love hearing stories from Children’s staff members about how volunteers made a difference in their daily work!  This past week, we received the following e-mail from Patty Sandkamp in the Sibling Play Area, acknowledging the exemplary work of volunteer Tsering Tsomo (pictured).

“I really want to let you know what a fantastic job Tsering did in a tough situation today.  Tsering was patient, caring, responsive to directions, and extremely helpful when one of the children began to feel ill in Sibling Play.

Not only was Tsering caring toward the child, but she was open to my direction and willing to be with the child while I made the calls I needed to make and tended to the other children.  Additionally, after the child was picked up by a parent, Tsering helped me sanitize all the toys that the child had played with.

I really wanted to pass on my appreciation to all of you for bringing in such a great volunteer!”

-Patty Sandkamp, Sibling Play Area Child Life Associate

St. Paul Construction: NEW Tour Dates!

Interested in seeing what’s inside the building that has been surrounded by construction for the past several months?

Here’s your opportunity!  We have scheduled two dates for volunteers to tour Children’s new developments.  Space is limited, so please contact Volunteer Services at [email protected] to RSVP which date you can attend.  Please meet in the Volunteer Services office 15 minutes prior to the beginning of your tour.

Wednesday, March 2nd: 4-5pm

Wednesday, March 9th: 4-5pm


Maggie the Golden Retriever: An Inspiring “Tail!”

Bonnie & Maggie Ask are new additions to the PAWH (Pets Assisting With Healing) team on the St. Paul campus.  With Bonnie’s help, Maggie has become a registered therapy dog through the Delta Society.  Last week, Bonnie & Maggie assisted occupational therapist Emily DeBreto with one of her sessions.  Emily’s patient was working on handwriting and grasping skills with a writing tool.  To make the session fun and interesting, Emily asked the patient to interview Bonnie about Maggie.  After the patient finished her interview, she turned it into a story and wrote it on paper.  This patient learned sentence-building without even knowing it!

Maggie's Story Bonnie and Maggie

Huge thanks to Bonnie and Maggie!

Volunteer Joyce Sidman Wins Newbery Award!

In mid-January, we were thrilled to learn that our very own Joyce Sidman (pictured above with another of her award-winning books!) had received a Newbery Honor Award for her book, “Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night!”  Newbery Awards are given annually to authors of the “most distinguished contributions to American literature for children.”

Joyce is a writer-in-residence with the COMPAS/WAITS Arts Organization of St. Paul &  has written articles and reviews for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Star Tribune, the Christian Science Monitor, and the late Riverbank Review. Her poetry for both children and adults has been widely published, and she won the New Women’s Voices award for her adult book, Like the Air.

At Children’s, Joyce volunteers on Wednesday afternoons in the Malkerson Library, sharing her love of reading with children on the inpatient units.  She has volunteered at the hospital for the past nine years, accumulating nearly 1000 hours of service. 

Below is an article about Joyce’s Newbery honor that was featured on Minnesota Public Radio:

Congratulations, Joyce!