‘Volunteering is truly time well spent’
Keeping company with sick kids at Wolfson Children’s every Friday night never gets old.
Johnny Woodhouse Published: 8/16/2018
I’ve always wanted to work in a bustling medical center like the one portrayed in the 1980s TV series “St. Elsewhere.”
A hospital is a microcosm of society. It’s a living, breathing organism pulsating with life.
Strolling through the halls, you immediately feel a sense of urgency; a knowledge that lives are in the balance every minute of every day.
It’s an intoxicating environment to work in, but you don’t have to be a full-fledged member of the medical field to experience it firsthand.
I’ve been a volunteer at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, Fla., for the past five years. My Friday night service with the Wolfson Children’s Auxiliary involves checking in on patients and their parents on every floor of the hospital, from oncology to the neonatal and pediatric intensive care units.
A hospital room can be a lonely place for a sick child, especially if he or she is spending their very first night away from home. As a volunteer, I’m also an extension of the hospital’s Child Life department, helping pediatric patients cope with their hospital experience.
Many of these patients need company for one reason or another. Sometimes they just want someone to hang around until their parents arrive, or if their parents have left for the night, to stay with them until they fall asleep.
We may watch a movie together, color a book, play cards (I’m a pretty good shuffler), or just talk. I can bring them a snack, or fetch them an extra blanket or pillow.
My wife, Anne, and I work as a team every Friday night. We assist the nursing staff in any way we can, whether it’s sitting with a patient, stocking refrigerators in the nourishment rooms, straightening up linen closets, wiping down toys in the playrooms or escorting a discharged patient to their waiting vehicle.
Volunteers at Wolfson Children’s can serve in a variety of non-clinical roles, too, like staffing an information or check-in desk, manning a merchandise kiosk, or joining the Auxiliary’s long-established pet therapy team.
Not everyone is able to donate the gift of time to a children’s hospital, but you can still support pediatric patients by donating much-needed items like toys, games, clothing or gift cards by calling 904.202.8008.
Take it from me; volunteering at a children’s hospital is a rewarding experience. A few hours of your time can mean the world to a pediatric patient or the parent of one. It is truly time well spent.