A volunteering story by: Luis E Espinosa-Zagal

My best friend is a volunteer at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. She has been there for about half a year now and absolutely loves it. She works with children who are in isolation due to respiratory illnesses. These kids range from newborns to 18 years of age. Since they are in isolation, they do not get many guest and they cannot leave their rooms to go out and play. As a volunteer, she is trained to go into isolation rooms so that she can play with the children.
Play ranges depending on the age of the children. Usually with the little ones, she feeds them, holds them, and plays with them. For the older kids, there are board games, puzzles and arts and crafts. These kids are usually alone, which is why it is so important to have volunteers come in and play with them. She says that if she can get them to have some fun, then these kids stop focusing on their illnesses and for that moment they are happy. My friend makes sure that all the kids on that floor have something to do, to help them enjoy their stay at the hospital. She says no kid wants to be in the hospital, alone in his or her room, but they are there to get better, so if she can make their experience a bit more fun than she feels like she made a difference. She really believes that it is important for kids to have a good time in order to get well.

The Inspiration

Since high school, my best friend has always enjoyed volunteering in many different places. Most of her volunteer services have been working with kids; such as tutoring and helping underprivileged children get all the school supplies they need. In college, she struggled with deciding on a major. She had no idea what she wanted to study. She came across a flier one day about a disabilities and human development major. She was extremely interested in it so she began taking a few courses as soon as she had the chance. She knew right away that this was definitely something she wanted to study, so she continued on with the courses.
A few months later, a friend of hers spoke to her about her experiences volunteering at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. She spoke about the fun she had and about the amazing kids that she has met. This was the first time she has heard about this opportunity, but it also seemed like something she should be a part of. Soon after she applied to become a volunteer and got accepted. Volunteering there was definitely a perfect match for her. There she could work with children like she has always enjoyed, while at the same time learning a bit more about disabilities and development. A few things came together to inspire her to volunteer there, and she is extremely glad that they did because she says that she loves volunteering there.

The Aha! moment…

My best friend is always saying that there are many things you can learn from working with children. Children are the most caring and they love unconditionally. They deserve all the care in the world. If the whole world can love like kids do, then the world would be a more beautiful place. She says that seeing kids alone and sad in a hospital room is one of the worst sights she has ever seen. She says that by making them smile, you learn a lot about yourself. Being able to make a kid smile is such an amazing feeling. Though a smile is such a small and simple gesture, it is an extremely important one especially for children. Words cannot explain the feeling you get from being able to make a sad kid smile in a hospital room. She says it is almost as if there is no greater accomplishment. She only wishes to teach the kids as much as they teach her every day.
Volunteering at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago has left a huge impact on my best friend. She says that volunteering there has changed her for the better and that she has learned to appreciate fun a little better. Fun and play seems so little and secondary at times, but it is a huge part of life and everyone deserves it, no matter how sick one is. She has also learned that she wants to become an occupational therapist for children. Thanks to volunteering there, she knows she wants to work specifically with kids.

To summarize it in three words…

  • Love, Fun, Amazing

Why should you do this

She recommends anyone who enjoys working with kids to volunteer like she does. She says that she has a blast playing and visiting all these different kids. This is one experience she will never forget.

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