For several years now, including a few prior to having kids, I have volunteered with Children's Hospital here, specifically working with the Auxiliary. It's been a great experience, including volunteering for Parents Night Out - a Thursday night once a month where all the parents that have children in rooms that night are invited to the cafeteria for a meal (from outside the hospital) and bingo and prizes - all donated by a sponsoring group; as Secretary of the Auxiliary - keeping all the volunteers up to date on the opportunities and needs for volunteers; the Christmas Tree Lighting - scheduling entertainment, clowns, and making sure Santa is all ready to arrive in the lobby to visit with the kids the first Friday in December right after the lights "magically" shine on the holiday trees for the first time and even heading up the Teen Scholarship Committee who chooses which teen is deserving of a $2,500 scholarship to college given by the Auxiliary each year.
I've been able to meet and get to know some great people in my work downtown at the hospital and my only regret has been not being able to participate on a more regular basis. With Cory's schedule on the road, it's hard for me to commit to just about anything that requires a definitive day a month or week. However, I do whatever I can just to keep in the loop and involved hoping someday that might change...or even change enough that the kids could join me. When Jack was a baby, he sometimes came with me to the Auxiliary board meetings - and I was tickled this week when Howard Holmes, one of the CHS Volunteer Staff told me that was the highlight of his first meetings with us. He so enjoyed watching Jack crawl around under the table, getting into whatever he could, while we attended to whatever business we had to.
This Tuesday, I was able to work things around and get downtown to interview teens that had applied for a limited amount of volunteer spots that are open for them for the fall semester. Priority goes to returning teen volunteers, so that left only about 10 spots and we had 30 or so that had applied.
It was a great experience, not just to get out of the normal routine of getting the kids, home, dinner, bath, etc...but to see what is out there in the form of our future. I spent about 10 minutes with each of the 7 that I interviewed and am glad I only have to give the input and not make the decision on who to choose. Of course, some amount of dedication is expected by someone who goes ahead and not only fills out the application, but also writes an essay and gets two letters of recommendation from teachers or church members.
Ironically, my top interviewee of the night was my last. She was an eager junior, eldest of four, who shared her gift for coming up with spur of the minute ideas to keep kids busy/distracted, which is often a huge need in the emergency room at Children's when there is a several hour wait to see a doctor during busy times. (Children's never turns away a junvenile patient, no matter insurance or no insurance, so you can imagine in a metropolitan area like Birmingham, what that can lead to.) I was thoroughly impressed by her ease at speaking with an adult she had just met as well as her other volunteer experiences so far in her high school career. And when I asked her what it was about her that was unique as it pertained to the hospital volunteer experience she shared with me that her now 10 year old brother was diagnosed with cancer at 18 mos old and how she remembered all the treatments, the care and the experience that she was a part of in a family that had such a difficult thing happen to them.
That pretty much sealed the deal for me in my choice. Up until that point, I saw a lot of myself in her. After learning what she and her family had been through, I realized she was way ahead of me already.