Celebrating Volunteer Week: Meet the People Who Give Their Time to Help Patients, Families
Learn how to volunteer at Cook Children's and meet a few of the volunteers.
It’s National Volunteer Week and we’re highlighting some of the amazing people who dedicate their time to Cook Children’s patients, families and Our Promise.
National Volunteer Week (April 17-23) recognizes the contributions that volunteers make every day across the country and encourages others to discover their path to making a difference.
Cook Children’s Health Care System currently has 759 active volunteers. Half of our volunteers are virtual and work in the Stitch-A-Wish program, Family Advisory Councils, Lend-a-Hand projects, as well as off-site locations, such as camps.
Each one of our volunteers is an important part of the patient experience at Cook Children's. Through their gifts of time, talent, and compassion, volunteers help sick and injured children and their families have the best experience possible under their circumstances.
Directing and escorting visitors, reading books, playing in the playrooms, comforting little ones, educating parents about infant safety, and helping customers in the gift shop are just a few ways our volunteers make a challenging time better, put a smile on a child's face, or support an anxious parent.
Cook Children’s lost several hundred volunteers during the two years that COVID took its toll. Now, community members are vaccinated and feel more confident about getting out and volunteering. Most of our experienced volunteers have returned to active duty and many new volunteers have joined us since we re-opened our program. It’s been wonderful to begin rebuilding and heading toward “normal” a step at a time.
Cook Children’s has 250 adult and college students who are actively volunteering at Cook Children’s Medical Center, urgent cares, and clinics. They volunteer in direct Patient Care placements at a child’s bedside, in playrooms, and in surgery recovery, or in Helping Hands placements like the gift shop, children’s library, hospitality cart, wayfinding, and more.
The junior volunteer program will re-open in June after a two-summer hiatus due to COVID. Volunteer Services will host 50 high school students, ages 15-18.
Let us introduce you to a few of the volunteers here at Cook Children’s.
Name: Julie Landry
Lives in: Arlington
Years volunteering at CCHCS: 7 years
Landry has volunteered at Cook Children’s Health Care System for seven years, a majority of which has been in the surgery center.
What do you enjoy about volunteering?
“I like it because I’m with the parents to reassure them. As a parent myself, you know what they’re going through,” Landry said. “I really enjoyed being a parent and helping out. It’s a really great group of people."
What do you share with others about volunteering?
“You really feel like you’re doing something and I feel like I’m helping people, I really do,” Landry said. “When families say ‘thank you for being here’ when you leave, it makes you feel good. You’ve relaxed them.”
“We don’t get personal because we can’t, but some people will share everything with you. You’re there to sit with them and empathize with them.”
Name: Lawrence Hogue
Lives in: Arlington
Years volunteering at CCHCS: 10 years
Lawrence has volunteered at Cook Children’s for 10 years. On Mondays and Wednesdays, he visits patient rooms to talk to kids, and offer parents and caregivers a break.
“I just can’t tell you how much I love this place, it’s a part of me now,” Hogue said. “I’ve called it my ministry. This is what I like to do. Cook is my place - this is my place right here.”
Hogue volunteers every Friday at the NICU where they call him “the baby whisperer” because he sings and rocks the babies to sleep.
“Everybody is so friendly – the doctors, the nurses, the support team,” Hogue said. “I feel like I’m part of the team. If I can make the kids smile a little bit, and some of them will talk your ear off. Sometimes they have no filter and I just love them. The 3-year-olds, the 4-year-olds and even some teenagers, we talk about what they want to be when they grow up.”
He knows it can be scary for kids to go to the hospital, so he hopes to make them feel better.
“It makes me feel good when I can make a child smile at me,” Hogue said. “If I can relieve any of the pain by being around, telling them little jokes or nursery rhymes and get them to laugh a little bit – it really detracts from their fear. It really makes me feel good and warms my heart.”
Name: Courtney Busby
Lives in: Fort Worth
Years volunteering at CCHCS: 2 years
Busby works full-time at a pharmacy and takes grad classes online, but she still makes time to volunteer at Cook Children’s. She also enjoys the flexibility with volunteering. She works in the morning, volunteers at Cook and returns to work in the afternoon.
When she was little, she remembers visiting Cook Children’s often for her brother. She said she felt taken care of by the staff as a patient sibling.
“I’ve always loved kids and have a passion for kids,” Busby said. “My biggest thing that I love doing is giving parents a break because sometimes they don’t want to leave their kids by themselves. So even just me staying in there so they can relax and go grab some chips or some food.”
She says she doesn’t mind changing diapers or helping feed kids. Patients’ faces light up when she brings them toys from the playrooms.
“The mom is just as lit up because she’s happy that her child has some kind of joy while they’re in the hospital,” Busby said. “My favorite part is seeing their faces light up when I get to help them.”