Memphis, TN 2 - Children's Health (Post 3)

WOOHOO! Not only was today filled with some very memorable experiences, but we ended on a high note with some wonderful homemade pasta and some Southwestern and Caesar salads. Below is a look at what some of us were busy accomplishing today, but may not include each and every awesome interaction we had today:

Luke spent much of his morning coloring, watching movies and taking selfies with a little girl and her kind, personable family. When she woke up and saw that there was a volunteer there who was prepared to spend time and act goofy with her, she was so happy and energetic. Luke melted.

Our site leader Mikko was wowed by how dedicated some parents truly are, and how impactful volunteers can be on parents' lives. As a single mom who never wants to leave her sixteen week old daughter's side and who hadn't slept for four nights because of it, Mikko's arrival made all the difference for her and allowed her to get some much needed rest. He learned valuable lessons when his patient began to have a seizure, which helped him learn how to handle such a situation appropriately – experience that will useful, especially for a future doctor.

Emilie worked on the Arts and Crafts cart today, and her favorite part involved a little boy who came out of his room to work on a "secret" project for his mom. After getting all of the most girly stickers and supplies from the cart, this sweet little boy got hard to work on preparing a surprise gift for his mom. Not only are these children strong, they're as sweet as can be.

Rio worked on the Beverage Cart this morning, and the defining moment of his day was when a parent came up to him and hugged him out of thankfulness for the simple things we provide as volunteers. For someone living in the hospital environment and dealing with monumental amounts of stress, a cup of Joe can go a long way. As nervous as he was before, the hug made all the difference and made him comfortable with the work he is doing at Le Bonheur.

Our site leader Lexie spent the first portion of her day holding a baby, which was somewhat uncomfortable for her at first but all the same a heartwarming experience that comforted a child in need. The second half of her day was spent at the Purple Party, which celebrates Epilepsy Awareness Day, and gave her the opportunity to talk with a girl who loves comic books, had her face painted and blew bubbles.

Carmen had an awesome experience with an infant who, as soon as she walked in was jumping for joy and was bursting with energy. When she picked her up to hold her, however, the child fell right to sleep and stayed that way for the whole forty five minutes Carmen held her. She also realized that it's the little things that we as college students don't appreciate that can make such a difference to parents who are spending many stressful nights and days there.

Katie spent her whole day as a unit buddy, and was surprised that the unit buddy idea actually works – after all, parents are keen on giving their children to strangers – but parents are so thankful and humbled to have us volunteers around. She added that, at the Purple Party, she talked with a girl whose brother has been at Le Bonheur for six years and who thinks of the professional staff as her second family. She recalled an experience years earlier when the family was unable to make it up during Christmas time and Le Bonheur paid all of the shipping costs so that their patient could still have a merry holiday season.

Gabrielle also worked on the Art Cart, and couldn't believe how much the little things count. This morning her job was simple: Replace artwork in patient's rooms, but even then a mom took the time to thank her for what they were doing. Le Bonheur is such a great institution because they do more than just cater to the obvious needs, like providing medical care. We go further, providing basic amenities, food, drink, and a friendly environment. Le Bonheur's patients notice the little things, and they matter.

When we finally made our way home after a successful afternoon, much of the group got to work cooking a wonderful dinner. As usual, getting to watch everyone else clean everything up rewarded those who cooked, which gave some of our "gold" group members (Steven, Gabrielle and others) a chance to organize the kitchen. For those of us who are OCD, it's silly little things like that that can be a huge stressor.

At the very end of the evening, we all got together to express our feelings about what we had been doing well and what hadn't been going so well. Everyone opened up and we're just another step closer to doing away with any and all animosity. It's safe to say that, tonight, the group is closer than ever.

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